Signs of the Times (8/25/15)

4,500 Babies Saved From Abortions After Texas De-Funds Planned Parenthood

New Texas abortion figures are out today and they confirm that de-funding the Planned Parenthood abortion business has real results. Almost 4,500 unborn babies were saved from abortions as the new Texas abortion figures show a decline in abortions from 68,298 in 2012 to 63,849 abortions in 2013, the last year for which data is available. In July, 2011, pro-life Texas Governor Rick Perry signed SB 7, a health care measure containing language that would revoke the taxpayer funding for the Planned Parenthood abortion business. The measure de-funded Planned Parenthood of $34 million or more. Americans nationwide have called for de-funding Planned Parenthood after the massive scandal at Planned Parenthood, where its staff and officials have been caught selling aborted babies and their body parts.

StemExpress CEO Admits Planned Parenthood Sells Fully Intact Aborted Babies

Just a short time after a judge issued a ruling that the biotech firm StemExpress can’t block the Center for Medical Progress from releasing another video that shows what it does with aborted babies Planned Parenthood sells to it, the pro-life group put up a preview of the 8th video in its series, reports LifeNews.com. In the video, Cate Dyer, the CEO of StemExpress, is shown in a lunch meeting with undercover operatives posing as representatives of a biotech firm. Dyer is laughing about how StemExpress purchases fully intact aborted babies from Planned Parenthood. She laughs about how shippers of the aborted babies would give a warning to lab workers to expect such a baby. “Oh yeah, if you have intact cases — which we’ve done a lot — we sometimes ship those back to our lab in its entirety,” she says.

Boy Scouts Sued after Homosexual Troop Leaders Abuse Four Kids

“Yet another man is charging the Boy Scouts with failing to protect him decades ago against a former St. Paul adult scout leader who allegedly abused him dozens of times when he was an adolescent and took naked photographs of him,” the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. The scout leader, Leland Lee Opalinski, has been named in three other civil suits against the Boy Scouts of America since late June, when Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough announced he was seeking damages from the Scouts and the local Northern Star Council for four years of sexual abuse by Opalinski. In a civil suit filed Tuesday in Ramsey County District Court, John Doe 153 charges that Opalinski repeatedly had ‘sexual contact’ with him between 1967 and 1971, when he was 12 to 16.”

400,000 ‘Anchor Babies’ Born in U.S. Each Year

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s call for an end to birthright citizenship has focused new attention on the law deemed to grant automatic citizenship to children born in the U.S. to illegal alien parents. Children gaining birthright citizenship are pejoratively referred to as “anchor babies” because they provide an anchor in the U.S. for family members seeking to enter the country legally. The number of babies gaining birthright citizenship has been steadily rising and is now estimated to top 300,000 and reach as high as 400,000 a year, according to John Feere of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). The Pew Hispanic Center puts the estimate at 340,000 a year. In the most recent analysis, nearly three-quarters of all children of undocumented immigrants were U.S. citizens, and the children of illegals cost taxpayers some $52 billion a year in education expenses alone, Judicial Watch disclosed. Nearly 4 million illegal aliens living in the U.S. have at least one child who is a citizen. And 66 percent of the immigrants who were granted permanent residency in a recent year were sponsored by family members who were American citizens.

Three Americans Subdue Armed Terrorist on European Train

Three Americans are being hailed as heroes Saturday for tackling and disarming a gunman on a high-speed train travelling between Amsterdam and Paris Friday. Anthony Sadler, a senior at Sacramento State University, was traveling with childhood friends Spencer Stone, an Air Force serviceman from Carmichael, California, and Alek Skarlatos, a National Guardsmen from Roseburg, Oregon, when they heard a gunshot and breaking glass. Sadler told The Associated Press that they saw a train employee sprint down the aisle followed by a gunman with an automatic rifle. “As he was cocking it to shoot it, Alek just yells, ‘Spencer, go!’ And Spencer runs down the aisle,” Sadler said. “Spencer makes first contact, he tackles the guy, Alek wrestles the gun away from him, and the gunman pulls out a boxcutter and slices Spencer a few times. And the three of us beat him until he was unconscious.” Another passenger helped the servicemen tie the gunman up, and Stone then quickly turned to help another passenger who had been wounded in the throat, stopping his bleeding until paramedics came. The armed gunman was on authorities’ radar in three different countries and had ties to radical Islam

Two Women Make Army Ranger History

Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver made history Friday as the first two women to graduate from the U.S. Army’s elite Ranger School. The two received their tabs as part of Ranger Class 08-15 at Fort Benning, Georgia, marking a historic moment in the integration of women in the U.S. military, after completing weeks of grueling physical training across woods, mountains and swamplands. At an outdoor ceremony, Maj. Gen. Austin S. Miller, commanding general of the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence, addressed critics who questioned whether standards of the rigorous course were lowered for the two female Rangers. They met every requirement the men did, he said.

Women Register to Vote for the First Time in Saudi Arabia

For the first time in the history of Saudi Arabia, women can begin registering to vote this week. According to local media, women will be able to vote and run in elections held in December of this year, marking a step forward for proponents of women’s rights in a country that has received heavy criticism for its treatment of women. Official voter registration begins August 22, and candidate registration begins on August 30, according to a Saudi government website. However, women will only participate in elections at the municipal level for now.

Government Workers Cope with Fallout from Ashley Madison Hack

The massive data breach at Ashley Madison has outed some 32 million adulterers, including some 15,000 email addresses from government and military accounts, indicated by .gov and .mil domains. CNNMoney has identified multiple Assistant U.S. Attorneys among the site’s users, along with an IT specialist for the Department of Homeland Security, a trial attorney for the Department of Justice, and other government workers with sensitive positions. “No justification.” That’s how one attorney at the Department of Justice describes his use of the cheating site while in the office. That time of my life was just not good personally,” he told CNNMoney. And now that he’s been exposed? “You look like a moron,” he said. The Ashley Madison data leak has also spawned an uptick in requests for private investigators. A startup called Trustify — a website for hiring private investigators on-demand — has seen a major spike in business over the past two days.

  • For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither anything hid, that shall not be known and come to light. (Luke 8;17)

Extreme Weather to Cause Extreme Food Shortages

Food shortages and price hikes caused by extreme weather will be three times more likely over the coming decades, according to a new report. The U.K.-U.S. Taskforce on Extreme Weather and Global Food System Resilience found that extreme weather in areas that produce our most important crops will mostly be the cause. A massive drought is already underway in California — the world’s richest food-producing region — causing a loss of 30% of its cropland at a value of nearly $2 billion. The U.S. isn’t alone in feeling the impact of extreme weather. Venezuela is also undergoing shortages because of a heat wave. The U.S. and European Union will likely be sheltered from widespread impacts because of strong economies and the ability to outbid other countries for food supplies, the report found. Still, it says global cooperation needs to happen to prevent large food shocks. That means policy and trade agreements that take into account sharing water resources and banning restrictions on certain staple crops.

  • End-time weather will become more and more extreme (Daniel 9:26b, Revelation 8:7, 11:19, 16:11)

Student Loan Debt: America’s Next Big Crisis

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York released its latest Report on Household Debt and Credit Developments, and the news isn’t good for student-borrowers. As of the second calendar quarter ending June 30, seriously delinquent student loans (which the FRBNY describes as those whose payments are 90 or more days past due), increased to 11.5% of the $1.19 trillion dollars’ worth of education loans, versus 11.1% in the first quarter. Although student loans make up only 10% of all consumer debt, the amount of seriously past due student loan payments total nearly one-third of all seriously past-due debt payments. What’s more, of the total $1.19 trillion in outstanding education-related loans, only about half that amount is actually in repayment at this time (the balance is deferred because the borrowers are still in school). So instead of 11.5% being seriously delinquent, it’s actually twice that amount: 23%.Not only that but the FRBNY’s numbers don’t include problems in the making — loans with payments that are currently between 30 and 90 days late.

Economic News

Stocks jumped about 2% at the open Tuesday as Wall Street rebounded from Monday’s 588-point drop in the Dow in a stock market rout that began last week. Investors were encouraged after five days of intense selling as China cut interest rates for the fifth time since November in an effort to boost its slowing economy. The market sell-off took on an especially nasty tone Friday as stocks dropped for a fourth straight day with the Dow plunging more 531 points and oil setting a new 6 1/2-year low as it dipped below $40 a barrel. Global markets have come under pressure this week on growing concerns about a slowing Chinese economy and slumping oil prices. Fresh data from China Friday showing weaker manufacturing added to the worries. The Dow Jones industrial average tumbled 531 points, or 3.1%, to 16,460, a day after the blue-chip index tumbled 358 points in its biggest point plunge since Nov. 9, 2011. Friday’s losses sent the blue-chip index down 10.1% from its May 19 record closing high of 18,312.39.

Gas prices have dropped about 5% in the last month to $2.60 a gallon according to AAA. And they’re expected to fall even more this fall, as they begin to more closely track the price of oil, which plunged 18% over the past month. Gasoline has been slow to follow oil prices lower due to outages at several major refineries. Also keeping prices higher is the fact that gas stations are required to sell a more expensive summer blend of gas until Sept. 15, when environmental regulations allow the winter blend to roll out.

There is almost no way that China’s economy is growing as well as the government says it is. For years, experts have questioned whether China cooks its books. “The question is not whether they’re right, it’s how wrong are they,” says Derek Scissors, an Asia expert at the American Enterprise Institute. China wouldn’t be making a surprise devaluation of the yuan to boost exports, propping up its markets by actually buying stocks, and cutting interest rates in an effort to stimulate its economy if the country really was chugging along at the 7% growth rate that the latest government data claims.

Persecution Watch

Bokom Haram has reportedly killed about 8,000 members of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria. According to the Christian Post, Rev. Samuel Dali said that the terrorist group has destroyed about 70 percent of the churches. “Seventy percent of our churches have been destroyed in Adamawa, Yobe and Borno states by Boko Haram; over 8,000 of our members were killed; one hundred and seventy-six of the girls kidnapped in Chibok are our members,” said Dali, who is the president of the Church of the Brethren.

The Kenyan government is cracking down on churches in the country, using two high-profile incidents of misconduct to help justify the new regulations. In mid-August, Deputy President William Ruto said the government will tighten regulations on the registration of religious organizations and their leaders in an attempt to tame “rogue” pastors. But the latest incidents involving preacher misconduct have nothing to do with church-related activities, but instead they were fatal traffic accidents which one tried to cover up. The new rules, announced earlier this year, would require pastors, rabbis, imams, and other religious leaders to obtain certificates of good conduct from the police and clearance from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.

Middle East

The increasingly radical Jewish militants who target Palestinians are the latest front in Israel’s struggle against terrorism. Israeli security authorities estimate hundreds belong to the extremist groups, but only about 100 have been involved in the violent attacks. A July 31 arson attack by suspected Jewish extremists in the Palestinian village of Duma left a toddler and his father dead and sparked nationwide soul-searching. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the act of “Jewish terrorism” and launched a crackdown that included the arrest of a number of high-profile, ultra-nationalist activists. Many of the extremists are associated with the so-called “price tag” movement, which vows to exact a “price” by attacking Palestinian properties or people whenever Israel attempts to curb Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Palestinians and the Israeli settlers have disputed the ownership of the West Bank for four decades. Some settlers, so avid in their claims to the land, have defied the Israeli government’s wishes by living in the contested zones.

Islamic State

The No. 2 figure in ISIS, Haji Mutazz, was killed in an August 18 drone strike near Mosul, Iraq, a spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council announced Friday. Mutazz was traveling in a car with a Islamic State media operative named Abu Abdullah when the vehicle was hit. Mutazz was in charge of ISIS operations in Iraq and was a key military planner. The U.S. believes Mutazz was also prominently involved in directing ISIS’ financial operations. Several news organizations, including CNN, reported his death at the end of last year, based on information from senior U.S. administration officials.

Fragments from an ISIS mortar fired on Kurdish forces near Makhmour, Iraq, earlier this month tested positive for sulfur mustard agent during a field test conducted by the U.S. military. In another case of apparent chemical weapons use by ISIS, the U.S. government also has test results from an ISIS attack in Hasakah, Syria, from three weeks ago that confirm the terror group used a mustard agent as a weapon, according to several officials.

Islamic State militants have destroyed a temple at Syria’s ancient ruins of Palmyra, activists said Sunday, realizing the worst fears archaeologists had for the 2,000-year-old Roman-era city after the extremists seized it and beheaded a local scholar. Palmyra, one of the Middle East’s most spectacular archaeological sites and a UNESCO World Heritage site, sits near the modern Syrian city of the same name.

Fourteen people have been detained in Morocco and Spain on suspicion of recruiting people to fight for ISIS in Syria and Iraq, the Spanish Interior Ministry said. They are accused of being part of a network that recruited and sent foreign fighters to join the ranks of ISIS.

Iran

Iran unveiled a short-range solid fuel ballistic missile Saturday, an upgraded version that the government says can more accurately pinpoint targets. The surface-to-surface Fateh-313, or Conqueror, was unveiled at a ceremony marking Defense Industry Day and attended by President Hassan Rouhani, who said military might was necessary to achieve peace in the volatile Middle East. The new missile has a quicker launch capability, a longer lifespan and can strike targets with pinpoint accuracy within a 500-kilometer (310-mile) range.

Afghanistan

NATO says three American contractors have been killed in a suicide car bombing in the Afghan capital, Kabul. Afghan officials say the blast killed at least 10 people. The attack that wounded 60 others. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, though the Taliban has stepped up its assaults on Afghan security forces since U.S. and NATO troops ended their combat mission in the country last year.

Macedonia

Thousands of migrants — most of them fleeing Syria’s bitter conflict — remained stranded Saturday in a no-man’s land on the border between northern Greece and Macedonia. Armored vehicles on the Macedonian side of the border, prevented the men, women and children crammed up against the concertina wire that demarcates the border from crossing. As some started rushing the razor fence and opened up a section of it, Macedonian military fired two stun grenades. Overnight Friday to Saturday it rained for hours, adding to the woes of those caught in the bottleneck. The desperate scenes come after Macedonia declared a state of emergency Thursday in its southern and northern border regions as it struggles to deal with the flow of migrants. Macedonia is not a member of the European Union, but a favored transit country along migrant routes toward Western and Northern Europe. More than 7,000 migrants have crossed into Serbia from Macedonia since Friday, according to the U.N.

Lebanon

Protesters clashed with police in central Beirut over the weekend, as a campaign that began with demands to solve an ongoing trash problem developed into a major crisis for the Lebanese government. Formed in mid-July as a response to garbage piling up in the streets of the capital, the “You Stink” movement has gained momentum over the past few weeks, galvanizing a weary public that has grown sick of government inaction and corruption. Several thousand people turned out for the demonstration on Sunday — the largest public action in Lebanon in many years — a day after security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters in central Beirut. Protesters damaged property and lit fires in. More than 400 protesters were injured over the weekend, including one seriously. Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces said 99 police officers were hurt, and that 32 “rioters” were arrested.

Korea

North and South Korea reached an agreement early Tuesday to resolve the showdown on the divided peninsula, with Pyongyang promising to express regret for recent provocations, including a land-mine attack that severely injured two South Korean soldiers. In return, Seoul agreed to turn off the loudspeakers that have angered Pyongyang so much that it had entered what the North called a “quasi-state of war.” Shortly after noon Tuesday, South Korea announced that it had stopped the broadcasts. The deal came after three days of marathon talks during which North Korea was moving troops and military equipment to the border, apparently trying to signal that it was ready for combat, while South Korea declared that it would retaliate against any provocation.

Nepal

Protesters in western Nepal have killed at least seven police officers as violent clashes broke out over the country’s proposals for a new constitution. Thousands of people had come out onto the streets in defiance Monday, encroaching a “prohibited zone” imposed by the administration since Friday. A mob surrounded officers in the district of Kailali, in the far west of Nepal as officials attempted to enforce restrictions. The protesters used axes, scythes and spears to attack the officers. A child was also killed during the attack. The proposed changes to the constitution — which has been under review since 2008 following a Maoist insurgency which deposed the country’s monarchy — would federalize the country, dividing it into seven provinces. Members of the country’s Tharu minority have been vocal in their opposition to the plan, which they say would see the group further marginalized.

Wildfires

Seventy firefighters from Australia and New Zealand, along with about 200 volunteers in the United States, have been called upon to help fight the largest wildfire in Washington state history. In addition, the Washington Department of Natural Resources issued a call for volunteers, hoping for former firefighters or heavy equipment operators who can bulldoze fire lines. Nearly 4,000 volunteers have answered the call, but only about 200 people with the right experience have been cleared to work. At more than 255,000 acres (86 sq. miles), the Okanogan Complex of fires has surpassed last year’s Carlton Complex wildfires as the biggest blaze in Washington’s recorded history. That’s nearly three times the size of Seattle. The latest group of fires grew by more than 26 square miles Sunday. Last week, three firefighters were killed and four more were injured near Twisp, Washington.

Nearly 7.5 million acres have burned in U.S. wildfires this year – an area roughly the size of Massachusetts – according to the National Interagency Fire Center. That’s well above the 10-year average of about 5.22 million acres through Aug. 24. There are currently dozens of large wildfires burning across the West. Idaho had 16 large (over 100 acres) fires Monday, the most in the nation. Firefighters in Idaho planned to hold and secure fire lines against a group of fires burning in timber a couple miles from the northern Idaho town of Kamiah. The blazes have destroyed 42 homes and scorched about 72 square miles, but nearly 800 firefighters have them 45 percent contained. Oregon has ordered more evacuations because of a wildfire that has already destroyed dozens of homes. The blaze has wrecked about 40 homes and another 50 other buildings, such as barns. Sixteen active wildfires were burning in California, but none posed serious danger Monday.

Weather

Typhoon Goni began pounding Japan’s southern Ryukyu Islands as of Sunday evening Japane. Winds gusted up to 159 mph at one location on the island of Ishigakijimase time. Goni made landfall in the Kumamoto prefecture on the Japanese Island of Kyushu just before 6 a.m. Tuesday (Japanese time), and is now weakening in the Sea of Japan. Mount Unzen in Nagasaki prefecture broke its all-time one-hour rainfall record when 5.30 inches, of rain was measured in one hour on Tuesday morning. Miyagawa in Mie prefecture picked up an incredible 26.65 inches, of rain in 24 hours ending at 9:00pm local time, an August record for the location dating to 1978. The storm damaged buildings, flooded streets and triggered landslides. At least 26 people were injured. Nearly 120,000 people in Kumamoto and Hiroshima prefectures were placed under an “evacuation advisory” while 2.2 million in the region have been “advised to prepare for evacuation.” A landslide warning was issued for Fukuoka, the seventh-largest city in Japan with a population of about 1.5 million

Prior to impacting southern Japan, Goni brought deadly impacts to the northern Philippines as it moved very slowly just north of Luzon Island. This resulted in a prolonged period of heavy rain and strong winds. Goni killed at least 19 people with 16 unaccounted for in the Philippines. Baguio City has picked up over 28 inches of rain.

 

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