Signs of the Times (8/4/15)

Thousands Turn from Islam to Embrace Christianity

As the Islamic State tries to overrun Syria and Iraq, thousands are reportedly turning away from the extremist values and finding Jesus. “I was a devote Muslim and often preached, but there was something missing. There was something empty about Allah and the Quran. Jesus appeared to me in a dream and open my eyes… what has missing was His love and peace,” said Iraqi Barazan Azeezi to The Christian Post. Some Islamic State fighters are telling stories of meeting a man who healed them. They then come to accept Jesus. “A decade ago, we would all hear when even one Muslim came to Christ in Lebanon or Syria. Now there are so many we cannot keep count,” a humanitarian worker told The Christian Post.

  • Praying for salvations should be our top priority as the end-times unfold

Atheists Get Slapped Down in Pennsylvania Ten Commandments Case

A federal judge in Pennsylvania has thrown out a lawsuit challenging the presence of a Ten Commandments monument at a local high school, declaring that the complainants have not suffered injury from the display. In 2012, the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) filed a lawsuit against the [Ten Commandments] display on behalf of local resident Marie Schaub and her daughter, who complained that they were disturbed by the monument’s presence” at her high school.

5th Video Catches Planned Parenthood Official Selling “Fully Intact” Aborted Babies

The pro-life advocates behind the four shocking videos exposing Planned Parenthood selling the body parts of aborted babies for research have released a 5th video Tuesday that catches a Planned Parenthood official discussing how the abortion business sells “fully intact” aborted babies. This undercover video shows the Director of Research for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, Melissa Farrell, promoting the Texas Planned Parenthood branch’s track record of fetal tissue sales, including its ability to deliver fully intact aborted babies. The video makes it appear the Planned Parenthood abortion business may be selling the “fully intact” bodies of unborn babies purposefully born alive and left to die. If so, Planned Parenthood could be breaking the federal law known as the Born Alive Infants Protection Act that requires abortion clinics, hospitals and other places that do abortions to provide appropriate medical care for a baby born alive after a failed abortion. Most abortion methods would do damage to the baby’s body.

Senate Fails to Advance Planned Parenthood Defunding Measure

The Senate failed Monday to advance a Republican-led measure to halt federal aid to Planned Parenthood, but leaders of the GOP-controlled chamber appear ready to continue the fight, galvanized by a series of unsettling videos about the group. The vote to bring debate on the bill was 53-46, shy of the 60 votes needed to advance. Republicans might try to gain leverage for the defund effort when Congress returns from August recess by threating to vote against spending bills to keep the government running after Sept. 30 if they include Planned Parenthood funds. However, GOP leaders are reluctant to force a shutdown fight that could haunt them in the 2016 elections.

Obamacare’s Deductible Caps Too High for Many

Obamacare went a long way toward preventing the insurmountable medical bills that led to a large percentage of U.S. bankruptcies. But for many people, the $6,600 per-person, per-year cap on out-of-pocket costs is way too high. Many enrollees are now paying more out-of-pocket than before. The family cap of $13,200 is only reached for serious medical issues. Patients are now responsible for an increasing portion of their health care costs. Out-of-pocket maximums include deductibles as well as co-pays and co-insurance, but not premiums or cost-sharing when you get care out of network. Maximums for private plans are often lower than $6,600 — sometimes by a lot.

Puerto Ricans Brace for Crisis in Health Care

The first visible sign that the health care system in Puerto Rico was seriously in trouble was when a steady stream of doctors — more than 3,000 in five years — began to leave the island for more lucrative, less stressful jobs on the U.S. mainland. Now, as Puerto Rico faces another hefty cut to a popular Medicare program and grapples with an alarming shortage of Medicaid funds, its health care system is headed for an all-out crisis, which could further undermine the island’s gutted economy. More than 60 percent of residents receive Medicare or Medicaid — an indicator of Puerto Rico’s poverty and rapidly aging population, reports the New York Times. When Puerto Rico defaulted on debt obligations Monday that only added fuel to the crisis. In addition, Puerto Rico is also running out of water. A drought has forced the island’s government to ration water. It’s become so bad that the government is actually turning off tap water in people’s homes, sometimes for days at a time. The main tourist areas, however, are exempt for now.

10 Million to Get Green Cards in Next 10 Years

The immigrant population is due to soar over the next decade, with the American government set to issue more new green cards over the next 10 years than the combined populations of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. According to information from the Senate’s Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, exclusively obtained by Breitbart, the vast majority of U.S. immigration stems from legal visas that are issued, most of which go to lesser-skilled and lower-paid workers and their dependents. The federal government has been issuing roughly 1 million green cards every year, for a total of 5.25 million in the last five years alone, according to the briefing. By comparison, just 3 million green cards per decade were issued during the economic boom of the 1950s and 1960s (that’s just 300,000 per year). Since 1970, the foreign-born population has increased more than four-fold, standing at a record of 42.1 million today. Green card holders not only receive the benefit of lifetime work authorization but also have access to federal benefits such as welfare, Social Security and Medicare.

Obama Targets Coal Companies

It’s a terrible time to be in the coal business. Companies have struggled for five years in an environment of strict regulation and low prices, along with a host of poorly-timed mergers. Alpha Natural Resources filed for bankruptcy on Monday, becoming the latest coal company to succumb to the difficult environment. Life is about to get even tougher as President Obama — never a friend of the coal industry — rolled out new rules aimed at further reducing America’s coal-burning power plants’ greenhouse gas emissions. President Obama established tougher greenhouse gas cuts on American power plants, aiming to jolt the world to action and setting the stage for a confrontation in the courts with energy producers and Republican-led states. Since Obama took office in January 2009, shares of many coal companies have plummeted more than 90%. Several companies have gone bust. Shares of several coal companies crumbled further on Monday as Obama announced the new climate change initiative.

Economic News – Domestic

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan warns that government spending is “extremely dangerous” to the future of the US economy. Greenspan decried a rise in entitlement costs, which he contended have pressured the U.S. economy. Social expenditures in the U.S. were 19.2 percent of gross domestic product last year, up from 15.5 percent in 2005, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). What’s worse, the portion of GDP spent on social benefits of the 34 member nations of the OECD averaged 21.6 percent. “To me the discussion today shouldn’t even be on monetary policy, it should be on how do we constrain this extraordinary rise in entitlements?” Greenspan said.

Six years after the Great Recession ended, only about a quarter of Americans have a positive view of the U.S. economy and its prospects, though significantly more feel good about their personal financial situation, according to a new USA TODAY/Wells Fargo survey. The findings underscore that although perceptions have improved along with the economy, the scars of the downturn have left Americans warier and less optimistic about the future.

Consumer spending rose modestly in June amid solid gains in job and income growth. Americans’ purchases increased 0.2% in June after jumping a revised 0.7% in May, the Commerce Department said Monday. Personal income increased 0.4%. Personal income was revised up 0.2% in 2012, and was revised down to 0.7% in 2013 and 0.3% in 2014.

General Motors, Ford, Fiat Chrysler and Nissan posted strong sales performances in July, as the auto industry creeps closer to its first full year of 17 million-unit sales since before the Great Recession. The automakers reaped increased profits from consumers’ rush to buy bigger vehicles with gasoline prices remaining low.

Economic News – International

Debt-ravaged Puerto Rico is in default after forking over only a fraction due in a bond payment, raising the prospect of further pain for the recession-plagued commonwealth and potential impacts on U.S. investors. Puerto Rico’s Government Development Bank paid only $628,000 of the $58 million due creditors. Puerto Rico’s outstanding debt of $72 billion is far bigger than Detroit’s $20 billion bankruptcy two years ago but a fraction of Greece’s $350 billion in obligations. But unlike Detroit, there’s no law allowing Puerto Rico to declare bankruptcy. And U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has said the federal government won’t bail out the island.

The latest economic data from Canada shows that it is inching toward recession, after its economy posted its fifth straight month of contraction. Statistics Canada revealed on July 31 that the Canadian economy shrank by 0.2% on an annualized basis in May, perhaps pushing the country over the edge into recessionary territory for the first half of 2015. It followed a contraction in the first quarter at an annual rate of 0.6%.

Collapsing oil prices and Western sanctions on big banks and energy companies tipped Russia into a financial crisis at the end of 2014. The ruble plunged and inflation soared. Russia jacked up interest rates in response, sold dollars and euros to defend its currency, pumped money into the banks and slashed government spending. The IMF expects Russian GDP to shrink by 3.4% this year, as falling real wages, the higher cost of borrowing and shattered confidence hit domestic demand.

Greek stock markets suffered a second day of losses Tuesday as Greek banking stocks once again fell by around 30%, the daily limit.

Middle East

Israel’s security cabinet approved new measures Sunday against Israelis who attack Palestinians, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his government will have “zero tolerance” for Jewish extremists. The tough talk follows a pair of attacks last week that shocked Israelis. On Friday, suspected Jewish extremists set fire to a Palestinian home in the West Bank and burned a toddler to death. On Thursday, an ultra-Orthodox Jew stabbed revelers at a gay pride parade in Jerusalem, and a 16-year-old girl wounded in that attack died of her wounds Sunday. Israel’s security cabinet issued a statement Sunday night saying it had directed the security agencies “to take all necessary steps to apprehend those responsible and prevent similar acts.”

The Beit Hanina intersection in Jerusalem was the scene of a terror attack Monday. A Molotov cocktail was thrown at a vehicle causing moderate wounds to a female passenger and a pedestrian who was struck when the driver lost control. The car was completely destroyed in the resulting fire. It was the latest in a series of violent attacks against Jews suspected of being in revenge for last Friday’s “price tag” attack which killed a Palestinian toddler and seriously wounded his parents and brother. Elsewhere, Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Malki presented a file to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague accusing Israel of being behind a series of what the file called “settler terrorism” attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank.

Nigeria

The Nigerian army said Sunday that it rescued 178 captives near the town of Bama in the militants’ stronghold of Borno state in the north of the country — 101 children, 67 women and 10 men. A Boko Haram commander was also captured. The Nigerian Air Force said it killed “a large number” of militants in repelling an attack on Bitta village, 30 miles southwest of Bama. It is not currently known whether the freed captives include any of the more than 200 schoolgirls who were abducted by the extremists in Chibok, northeastern Nigeria, in 2014.

Wildfires

Wildfires engulfing parts of California could intensify Monday, with gusty winds potentially fanning fires caused by lightning strikes. More than 9,300 firefighters are now battling at least 21 wildfires. With only 5 percent of the Rocky wildfire contained, California’s largest wildfire has rapidly consumed 62,000 acres in three counties. In a span of five hours from Saturday into Sunday, the fire doubled in size. The fire has destroyed 24 homes and 26 outbuildings, also threatening 6,300 homes scattered throughout rural areas. On Monday, the wildfire crossed a highway in several locations, breaking past containment lines.

A large forest fire was threatening suburbs of Jerusalem on Monday in the midst of one of the most intense heat waves to hit Israel in years. Dozens of families in Moshav Even Sapir and the Ein Kerem neighborhood near Hadassah University Medical Center were evacuated due to the fires which, officials said, was mostly contained by Monday morning. Smaller brush fires were reported in other areas throughout Israel as temperatures hit record highs and forecasters warned that there would be little relief before the end of the current week. The Israel Electric Company also warned of the risk of blackouts as electricity use hit all-time record highs. Searing temperatures also affected Israel’s neighbors, including Jordan where the capital of Amman was covered Sunday in a massive dust storm.

Weather

Severe thunderstorms rocked the Chicago area Sunday, killing at least one person when a tent collapsed at a festival. At least 16 people were injured in storm-related incidents, and there were six reports of tornadoes spawned across the region. The storms left plenty of damage behind and knocked out power to more than 230,000 customers at the height of the event. A dome at the Ballpark at Rosemont in Rosemont, Illinois, collapsed.

Heavy rains soaked Tampa, Florida, Saturday, causing flooding that rendered roads impassable and motorists stranded. Slow-moving thunderstorms moved through the Tampa metro Saturday afternoon, where the ground is already saturated by heavy rainfall from the past couple of weeks. Pasco County, Florida, declared a state of emergency on Friday in response to heavy flooding that slammed the area over the past weeks.

Summer heat is gripping opposite sides of the country this weekend, including parts of the Northwest and the Northeast. The heat has helped to clinch one of the hottest Julys on record for some Northwest cities. It’s also helped set a record for the most 90-degree days in a year in Seattle and has given Portland its hottest temperatures since 2009. The Northeast heat will not be as extreme, but it will stick around into early this week for some cities.

At least 167 people are reported dead in three Asian countries in the wake of a monsoon depression that briefly became a tropical cyclone last week, unleashing over 3 feet of rain in parts of Bangladesh and Myanmar. India’s Home Ministry says heavy monsoon rains have killed more than 90 people in the past week and forced tens of thousands of people to take shelter in state-run relief camps. On Saturday, at least 20 people were swept away by a landslide that flattened up to 10 homes in a tiny village in the northeastern Manipur state.

Food, water, cots, generators, and other federal emergency supplies were being rushed Tuesday from Hawaii and Guam to help Saipan after the Earth’s most powerful storm of 2015 — Super Typhoon Soudelor — blasted through the tiny U.S. island in the Western Pacific. The storm continued its violent march through the Pacific Ocean with sustained winds of more than 160 mph and gusts approaching 200 mph. The typhoon was taking aim at Taiwan and China, though it is expected to weaken to a Category 3 or 4 storm by then.

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One Response to “Signs of the Times (8/4/15)”

  1. marciasettles Says:

    Reblogged this on A Mom Looking Up and commented:
    Praise God for number 1!

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