Signs of the Times (8/1/15)

Pastor Leads Church Burglar to Christ at Gunpoint

A pastor who made headlines earlier this week for shooting a burglar at his church reportedly led the man to Christ while holding him at gunpoint. As previously reported, Benny Holmes of The Church of New Beginning in Baytown, Texas shot intruder Lee Marvin Blue in the shoulder when he heard the 27-year-old attempting to gain entry into the church early Tuesday morning (July 28). Charisma News reports Holmes called 9-1-1 himself and the pastor is heard guiding the burglar to ask Jesus into his heart while they wait for police to arrive. The burglar followed the pastor’s instructions and reported accepted Jesus as his Savior.

Court Blocks Release of Another Planned Parenthood Body Parts Video

The company featured in undercover videos of Planned Parenthood has gone to court to block release of one of the videos. The man behind those videos says StemExpress has good reason to be frightened of that video’s contents. The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) has released four of a promised series of videos with Planned Parenthood executives and abortionists discussing abortions and harvesting organs and tissue from the aborted babies to sell. One of the companies Planned Parenthood allegedly sells body parts to is StemExpress. An unnamed executive at StemExpress has obtained a temporary restraining order against release of a specific video in which CMP spokesman David Daleiden interviewed top officials at StemExpress. “StemExpress is trying to suppress a specific video recording of a meeting with their top leadership where their leadership admitted that they sometimes get fully intact fetuses shipped to their laboratory from the abortion clinics that they work with – and that could be prima facie evidence of born-alive infants,” Daleiden stated. “So that’s why they’re trying to suppress that videotape – and they’re very scared of it.”

Senate Will Vote On Defunding Planned Parenthood

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the U.S. Senate will vote next week on a bill to completely defund Planned Parenthood Federation of America, following four shocking videos showing the abortion provider actively engages in the harvesting and selling of the body parts of aborted babies. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) quickly garnered at least 32 co-sponsors for S. 1881: A bill to prohibit Federal funding of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The key language of the bill reads, “…no Federal funds may be made available to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, or to any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, successors, or clinics.” Planned Parenthood currently receives $540 million dollars from the federal government.

  • Actually, they are being funded by taxpayers who are outraged over the gruesome sale of baby body parts

Networks Covered Cecil the Lion More in 1 Day than Abortion Videos in 2 Weeks

America’s news anchors have spoken: the shooting of one lion vastly outweighs the trafficking of baby parts by a taxpayer-funded abortion giant. In other words, the broadcast news shows spent more time in one day on Cecil the Lion than they did on the Planned Parenthood videos in two weeks. The three broadcast networks, ABC, NBC and CBS censored the third video released Tuesday by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) exposing Planned Parenthood’s practice of harvesting aborted baby parts — censored it at Planned Parenthood’s urging. But the news shows did find more than 14 minutes for a more important story: the “outrage” over the shooting of Cecil, a famed African lion, by an American dentist, reports visiontoamerica.com

Wealthy Donors Pump Huge Sums into 2016 Presidential Election

More than 50 individuals and entities have shelled out at least $1 million apiece to big-money groups backing presidential candidates — with close to half of the big donors giving to a super PAC aligned with former Florida governor Jeb Bush. With 15 months to go before Election Day, donors have already contributed $272.5 million to independent groups supporting the large Republican field, more than four times the $67 million raised through their official campaigns, according to a tally by The Washington Post. In all, 58 donors together were responsible for $120 million given to GOP and Democratic super PACs by June 30 — more than 40 percent of the total amount raised by those groups.

  • Despite supposed reforms, major elections are still bought and paid for by the 1%

Washington D.C. is Sinking

Washington, D.C., where the powers that reign over the United States reside, is sinking into the ocean. Scientists predict that the land underneath the nation’s capital will drop more than 6 inches in the next 100 years. Washington’s sinking land is an entirely independent phenomenon from the rising sea levels, which scientists have attributed to climate change. The area is going through what geologists call a “forebulge collapse,” also known as the reason for many of Washington’s foreseeable geological woes. During the last ice age, a mile-high ice sheet pushed the land under the Chesapeake Bay region up. When the ice sheet melted 20,000 years ago, the bulging land began to settle back down. Global sea levels have risen about 8 inches since reliable record keeping started in 1880, research from institutions such as National Climatic Data Center and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory have reported. Those sea levels are projected to keep rising another 1 to 4 feet by 2100.

  • End-time woes are coming regardless of what humans do or don’t do

Trials Show New Ebola Vaccine is ‘Highly Effective’

A newly developed vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus is “highly effective” and could help prevent its spread in the current and future outbreaks, the World Health Organization said Friday. Trials of the single-dose VSV-EBOV vaccine began in March in Guinea — one of three West African nations at the center of the outbreak — and have shown such promise that this week it was decided to extend immediate vaccination to “all people at risk” after close contact with an infected person. More research is needed, but the results so far on this trial show 100% efficacy. To date, more than 4,000 close contacts of almost 100 Ebola patients, including family members, neighbors and co-workers, have voluntarily participated in the trial.

Persecution Watch

Police stood by watching idly as a mob of Hindu extremists dragged Christians from a prayer meeting in West Delhi, India, and beat them. Police then questioned those who were attacked as if they were guilty of fraudulent conversion, sources said. A mob said to be members of the Hindu extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) stormed the prayer meeting in Nangloi, Nihal Vihar on July 18. When a pastor, Rajan Gill, led a group of Christians to the police station to help the pastors already in custody, the Hindu extremists beat them there. Initially, the police officers refused to register a case against the assailants, Christian leaders said. After about 400 Christians staged a protest in front of the police station against police inaction the next day, police filed a First Information Report (FIR) against the assailants.

A Pakistani Christian mother of three children has reportedly been kidnapped and forced into an “Islamic marriage.” Christian Today reports Fouzia Sadiq, a bonded laborer was taken by her Muslim landlord on July 23. The next day, Sadiq’s family was told she had converted to Islam and was married to her landlord Muhammed Nazir. Sadiq’s family have been moved to a safe house but the British Pakistani Christian Association says police have refused to investigate the incident.

A Georgia school district will be forced to pay the American Humanist Association $22,500 over allegations that local high school coaches led their teams in prayer before practices and games. The Christian Post reports that the Hall County School District of Gainesville, Georgia will use its insurance to foot the bill. According to the lawsuit, coaches at Chestatee High School and North Hall High School prayed with student athletes and used scripture verses in team materials. North Hall football coaches allowed a banner with scripture on it to be used at a game, while the Chestatee marching band director allowed students to elect student chaplains.

Oklahoma’s Supreme Court has rejected an appeal to keep a Ten Commandments monument on the state’s Capitol grounds. Christian Today reports the monument was placed at the Capitol in 2012; the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission previously requested that the statue remain in place, but the Supreme Court denied the request. The monument was privately funded and is supported by lawmakers in the state. Previously, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin said the monument would stay at the Capitol while lawmakers sought an appeal of the original decision.

Economic News – Domestic

The U.S. economy bounced back in the second quarter on strong consumer spending, exports and home construction, and its performance in the first quarter wasn’t as feeble as initially believed. Gross domestic product — the value of goods and services produced in the U.S. — expanded at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.3% in the April-June period, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. The government also revised up its estimate for the first quarter, turning a 0.2% contraction into 0.6% growth, mostly because of stronger business investment and federal government spending.

U.S. wages and benefits grew in the spring at the slowest pace since 1982. The slowdown also likely reflects a sharp drop-off in bonus and incentive pay for some workers. Wages and salaries alone also rose just 0.2%.Salaries and benefits for private sector workers were unchanged, the weakest showing since the government began tracking the data in 1980.

Second quarter profits reported by the three giant integrated oil companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 — Chevron, Exxon Mobil and Occidental Petroleum — fell to $4.9 billion, a 90% drop. That’s the lowest quarterly profit in at least 10 years. The price of West Texas Crude has lost more than half its value over the past year — a crushing blow for the big energy companies to absorb. Most of them haven’t been able to cut costs fast enough to defray the imploding price of the underlying commodity.

A new Pew study out this week revealed that more millennials than ever are living at home or with family. In fact, the nation’s 18- to 34-year-olds are more likely to be living with their families today than they were in the depths of the Great Recession. The national unemployment rate for people ages 18-34 is at 7.7% now, versus about 12% who didn’t have jobs in 2010. Despite the improvements, only 67% of millennials are living independently. That’s down 2% over the last five years.

Economic News – International

Puerto Rico will almost certainly be in default by Monday. The commonwealth needs to make a $58 million debt payment by August 1, but top Puerto Rican government officials say that they don’t have the money to pay. The August 1 payment is a very small part of the commonwealth’s $70 billion in outstanding debt, but it would be the first default for the island in this crisis. Puerto Rican Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla claims the commonwealth can’t pay all of its debts. He says the island’s economy is in a “death spiral.”

Royal Dutch Shell said Thursday it’ll cut about 6,500 jobs and capital investment this year as it restructures and dumps some businesses to prepare for a “prolonged downturn” in oil prices. The Netherlands-based energy company also said its second-quarter net income fell 25% to $3.99 billion. Operating costs will be cut by $4 billion and capital investment plans will be lowered by $7 billion this year, the company said. In addition, British firm Centrica will shed 6,000 jobs, partly due to a reduced focus on oil and gas production.

Spain was on the brink of collapse three years ago. Now the country is surging ahead. The fourth biggest economy in the eurozone has just reported its eighth successive quarter of growth, and the pace is picking up. Gross domestic product grew by an annual rate of just over 3% in the second quarter, making it one of the fastest growing developed economies in the world. And it’s not alone. Five countries were bailed out by their European partners during the region’s debt crisis, and of those only Greece is still going backwards.

Middle East

One year after Israel’s vaunted Iron Dome defense system helped protect citizens from a rocket barrage launched from Gaza, the Jewish State has deployed the shield to the north, amid fears that the Lebanon-based Hezbollah is getting an infusion of cash and weapons from Iran. Some military analysts have expressed skepticism that the revolutionary defense shield will hold up under a sustained assault from a wide variety of more lethal missiles attacking from different points of the compass.

A Palestinian’s home was burned during a “price tag” attack Friday that killed a toddler and critically injured at least three other relatives, Israeli and Palestinian officials said. The baby, was about 18 months old. Authorities found the words “price tag” on the walls of the house in Duma. A “price tag” attack is a term used by radical Israeli settlers to denote reprisal against Palestinians in response to moves by the Israeli government to evacuate illegal West Bank outposts.

An Orthodox Jew who stabbed marchers at a Jerusalem gay pride parade 10 years ago launched another knife attack at the same type of parade in the same city Thursday, stabbing and wounding six people who were on the streets for the event. Of the six people stabbed Thursday, two were injured seriously. Israeli police say Shlissel, an Orthodox Jew, was released from prison three weeks ago after serving a 10-year prison sentence for stabbing and wounding three marchers at a Jerusalem gay pride parade in 2005.

Syria

A Syrian insurgent group at the heart of the Pentagon’s effort to fight the Islamic State came under intense attack on Friday from a different hardline Islamist faction, a serious blow to the Obama administration’s plans to create a reliable military force inside Syria. The American-led coalition responded with airstrikes to help the American-aligned unit, known as Division 30, in fighting off the assault. The strikes were the first known use of coalition air power in direct battlefield support of fighters in Syria who were trained by the Pentagon. The attack on Friday was mounted by the Nusra Front, which is affiliated with Al Qaeda.

Nigeria

Nigerian soldiers rescued 71 people, almost all girls and women, in firefights that killed many Boko Haram militants in villages near the northeastern city of Maiduguri, the military said Thursday. Some captives told The Associated Press they were in the clutches of the Islamic extremists for as long as a year and often went hungry because the extremists never provided enough food. But attacks have increased in recent weeks, with hundreds killed in suicide bombings and village assaults. At least two women and one young girl who were suicide bombers this month came from the area where those freed this week were held. It is feared Boko Haram is turning its captives into weapons.

Environment

The Associated Press commissioned a study of the virus and bacteria levels in the waters where Olympic athletes will compete next year in Rio de Janeiro. The testing found dangerously high levels of pathogens from human sewage waste. Extreme water pollution is common in Brazil, where the majority of sewage is not treated. Raw waste runs through open-air ditches to streams and rivers that feed the Olympic water sites. Global water experts who examined AP’s data said the water is not safe for swimming or boating.

Volcanoes

Papua New Guinea’s Madang province has been put on alert in the wake of an eruption at Manam volcano Friday morning. The volcano on Manam Island erupted just after 11 a.m. Friday morning. It covered the town of Bogia in ash. Locals were told to stay away from the town four main valleys. Ash shot as high as 12 miles into the air during the eruption. Papua New Guinea’s geohazards department said that “the eruption has opened the vent’s plumbing system and possible ongoing eruptions of variable magnitudes are possible.” An eruption of Manam killed five people and forced more than 9,000 residents to flee in November 2004, and many of those evacuees still live in temporary housing.

Wildfires

A firefighter has been killed and hundreds of people forced from their homes as an army of firefighters battles multiple blazes burning through California’s forests and woodlands. An estimated 8,000 firefighters are battling 23 massive fires, several of which were ignited by lightning strikes, raging across Northern California. “Because of the dry conditions, because of the drought-stricken vegetation accompanied by the steep terrain and winds, we’re seeing activity that’s abnormal for this time of year,” state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection division chief Nick Schuler. The biggest fire was in the Lower Lake area north of San Francisco where firefighters had to wade through thick smoke and flying embers to turn loose horses, goats and other livestock in rural neighborhoods as their owners fled to safety. The fast-moving fire had burned three homes by Friday and was threatening 450 other structures. Only 5 percent contained, it had spread across 28 square miles and was growing quickly. The fires prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency for California on Friday. As part of the order, he activated the California National Guard to help with disaster recovery.

Weather

The amount of rain that California has missed out on since the beginning of its record-setting drought in 2012 is about the same amount it would see, on average, in a single year, a new study has concluded. Drought began creeping across the California landscape in 2012 and has continued to mushroom year after year as winter rains and snows were much diminished. The atmospheric rivers that normally funnel in moisture-laden air were thwarted by a persistent area of high pressure that blocked them from reaching California. This winter, precipitation that did manage to fall mostly did so as rains thanks to record-high temperatures linked to extremely warm waters off the coast, leaving the snowpack at record low levels. Californians cut their water use 27.3% in June, beating Gov. Jerry Brown’s mandatory 25% target in the first month it took effect.

Freakishly hot, dry weather in the Pacific Northwest is killing millions of fish in the overheated waters of the region’s rivers and streams. Sockeye salmon losses in the Columbia River due to the heat number in the hundreds of thousands. Water temperatures in the Columbia River — part of which runs along the border of Oregon and Washington — reached the low 70s shortly after July 4th. High temperatures — coupled with the low water levels — can be lethal to fish, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. High temperatures — coupled with the low water levels — can be lethal to fish, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. With no end to the drought in sight, there could be additional fish die-off.

A slow-moving monsoon depression that has already unleashed lethal amounts of rain in South Asia formed into a tropical cyclone over the northern Bay of Bengal Wednesday. The cyclonic storm, named Komen, threatens to further drench regions that are already reeling from flooding and mudslides. Gusty winds and rough seas are adding to the dangers, which in all have claimed at least 33 lives in two countries.

Even in the Middle East, where scorching heat is part of everyday life during the summer, coping with extreme temperatures has its limits. A heat wave that has been building for days is testing those limits – and will test the region’s national temperature records too. The searing heat has led to an impromptu, mandatory four-day holiday in Iraq beginning this past Thursday. The government has urged residents to stay out of the sun and drink plenty of water, but for many of the more than 3 million Iraqis displaced by violent conflict, that poses a dilemma. Thursday, the observation site at the Mahshahr Airport in southwest Iran reported a temperature of 109 degrees and a dew point of 90 degrees. Using the American heat index formula, those figures yielded a mind-boggling feels-like temperature of 159 degrees. Mahshahr soared to a staggering heat index of 163 degrees Friday.

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