Signs of the Times (9/12/15)

Christian Rapper and Former Lesbian Tells about Her Conversion

Christian rapper and former lesbian Jackie Hill-Perry discussed in a recent interview how she learned to overcome her same-sex attraction. After accepting Christ in 2008, Hill-Perry was able to leave behind her old lifestyle and is now married to fellow artist Preston Perry with whom she has a daughter. She said that after meeting with church leaders, she realized her struggle with homosexuality was much bigger than she had thought and she needed to deal with her whole person, specifically “hatred, bitterness, laziness, gluttony, lack of stewardship, pride.” Hill-Perry stated that it helped her turn her life around when she realized that “only Jesus can make me whole.” When I was able to see that all of me needed Jesus, all of me needed to be whole and all of me needed to be disciplined, that’s what helped me. Because it kind of humbles you where [I said] ‘I’m real messed up because it’s not this one little fraction of me. It’s all of me.’ And I’m able to really crawl to Jesus and know He can fix me.”

California Legislature Approves Assisted Suicide

The California State Legislature on Friday gave its final approval to a bill that would allow doctors to help terminally ill people end their lives. Four other states — Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont — already allow physicians to prescribe life-ending medication to some patients. The California bill, which passed Friday in the State Senate by a vote of 23 to 14, will now go to Gov. Jerry Brown, who has given no indication of his intentions. The California bill is modeled on the law in Oregon, with several notable changes. The California law would expire after 10 years and have to be reapproved, and doctors would have to consult in private with the patient desiring to die, as part of an effort to ensure that no one would be coerced to end his or her life — a primary concern for opponents of the law.

  • The culture of death continues to advance in the U.S.

Office Depot CEO Apologizes over Refusal to Copy Anti-Abortion Fliers

The CEO of Office Depot apologized Friday to a suburban Chicago woman who said the company discriminated against her religious beliefs when its employees told her that making copies of an anti-abortion prayer violated company policy. Maria Goldstein, who is Roman Catholic, asked the Office Depot in Schaumburg last month to make 500 copies of “A Prayer for Planned Parenthood.” The prayer was composed by the Rev. Frank Pavone, national director of the anti-abortion group Priest for Life. It calls on God to “Bring an end to the killing of children in the womb, and bring an end to the sale of their body parts. Bring conversion to all who do this, and enlightenment to all who advocate it.” The prayer also includes statistics about abortion in the U.S. and decries “the evil that has been exposed in Planned Parenthood and in the entire abortion industry.”

Senate Democrats Deliver Obama’s Iran Nuclear Deal

Democrats on Tuesday gave President Barack Obama the votes he needs to prevent the Senate from passing a measure disapproving of the Iran nuclear deal. Reaching the threshold to filibuster means the President likely won’t need to veto the measure, even though opposition to the Iran deal enjoys majority support in the House and Senate. The Senate would need 60 votes to advance a measure rejecting the deal for a floor vote. If all 41 Democrats who support the deal vote to filibuster, it would not reach a final vote in the Senate. Not all have pledged to do so, though they have pledged to vote with the President on the deal otherwise. On Thursday, Despite overwhelming disapproval for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) 42 Democratic Senators blocked a resolution Thursday to bring the question of approval or disapproval of the JCPOA for a full vote. Minority leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada triumphantly declared the matter closed. “You can call (a vote) ten more times and you’ll get the same result,” added Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

Latest Military Lab Problems Involve Plague Bacteria & Deadly Viruses

The Pentagon’s most secure laboratories may have mislabeled, improperly stored and shipped samples of potentially infectious plague bacteria, which can cause several deadly forms of disease, USA Today reported Friday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention flagged the practices after inspections last month at an Army lab in Maryland, one of the Pentagon’s most secure labs. That helped prompt an emergency ban on research on all bioterror pathogens at nine laboratories run by the Pentagon, which was already reeling from revelations that another Army lab in Utah had mishandled anthrax samples over the past 10 years. There is no danger to the public from the plague and encephalitis specimens found in the labs, said Army spokesman Dov Schwartz. After extensive testing, no danger has been found to scientists and researchers who have worked with the vials, he claimed. Final test results are expected by the end of the month.

Criminal Hacks of Healthcare Systems Up 125% Since 2010

Criminal attacks on healthcare computer systems are up 125% since 2010 and are now the leading cause of data breaches, a study by the Ponemon Institute found in March. Healthcare companies are especially tempting targets for cyber attackers, as their files contain large amounts of personal information on users. Because of the rise in attacks in the sector, earlier this year Excellus hired cyber security firm Mandiant to conduct a forensic review of its computer systems. Mandiant found evidence of cyber break-ins dating back to Dec. 23, 2013. The FBI was called in and the company began working to notify customers. Excellus, an upstate New York health care company, says information for as many as 10 million of its clients nationwide may have been exposed.

OPEC is Winning

The Saudi-led cartel’s master plan to pump record amounts of oil in order to squeeze other producers out of the market appears to be working. “The strategy…appears to be having the intended effect of driving out costly, ‘inefficient’ production,” the International Energy Agency said Friday in its monthly oil market report. The IEA monitors energy market trends for the world’s richest nations. The agency said OPEC’s rivals such as the U.S. and Russia will see the biggest decline in oil output next year since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Non-OPEC production will drop by nearly 500,000 barrels a day in 2016, the agency said. It singled out the U.S. shale oil industry as the biggest loser, forecasting that output will fall by 400,000 barrels a day next year. By contrast, demand for OPEC oil is expected to rise. In addition, Iran is gearing up to boost supplies and reclaim its place in the market once trade sanctions are lifted following its nuclear deal with the West. Crude oil prices could plummet to $20 a barrel as the massive supply glut persists until the end of next year, forecasts Goldman Sachs. Currently, crude oil is around $45 per barrel, down from $106 last year.

At Least 107 Dead in Crane Collapse at Mecca’s Grand Mosque

A huge construction crane buffeted by strong winds collapsed and crashed onto the Grand Mosque in Mecca on Friday, killing as many as 107 worshipers only days before the start of the annual Muslim pilgrimage, the Saudi Arabia Civil Defense reports. The Civil Defense said on Twitter that as many as 238 people had been injured. Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Mansouri, spokesman for the Presidency of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet Mosque, blamed the accident on a “strong sandstorm, winds and torrential rains,” the official Saudi Press Agency reports. The accident occurred as the kingdom prepared to welcome 3 million people to the Muslim holy city for the annual pilgrimage that begins Sept. 21.

  • This ‘accident’ occurred on 9/11. Ironic? Or spiritual justice?

Poor Nations want Wealthy Nations to Pay Reparations for Climate Change

Poorer nations suffering from extreme weather disasters want rich nations like the United States to pay for reparations and to relocate populations. Poorer nations blame extreme weather-related disasters on climate change stemming from emission-polluting countries that have more developed and wealthier economies. Preparatory talks ahead of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change to be held in Paris in December has representatives from developing nations asking for more than an already agreed upon $100 billion per year for climate change mitigation measures. They want additional compensation for weather-related disasters as well as a “displacement coordination facility” for refugees. And they want all this to be legally binding as part of the larger anticipated Paris accord. The U.S. and wealthier nations in the European Union are balking.

  • Having worked so hard to ‘prove’ climate change is a result of human-generated emissions, the U.S. and other wealthy nations are now reaping the price for their efforts.

Economic News

According to Bloomberg and other sources, the International Monetary Fund is expected to announce a reserve currency alternative to the U.S. dollar on October 20th of this year, which experts say will send hundreds of billions of dollars moving around the world, literally overnight. This announcement is expected to trigger one of the most profound transfers of wealth in our lifetime. Bloomberg reports that this decision comes on the heels of China pushing for their own currency to be elevated to reserve currency status.

America could soon be exporting a lot of oil. Momentum is building fast on lifting the ban on U.S. oil exports. A House subcommittee has scheduled a vote for Thursday on a bill that would eliminate the oil export ban. The U.S. passed the ban in 1975 on most — though not all — exports of crude oil on the heels of an OPEC oil embargo. That embargo sent oil prices skyrocketing and took a huge toll on the U.S. economy, which had grown dependent on foreign oil. The ban was put in place to prevent such disruptions in the future and protect domestic resources. But it’s a very different world now. Thanks to the shale oil revolution, the U.S. has become the world’s top producer of crude oil and natural gas, surpassing even Saudi Arabia.

Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, keeping this key indicator of labor market health near historic lows. The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications for unemployment benefits dropped 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 275,000. Benefit claims, a proxy for layoffs, below the 300,000 mark indicate moderate growth in the economy.

The prices charged by U.S. manufacturers, farmers and other producers were unchanged in August, the latest evidence that inflation remains tame. The Labor Department said Friday the producer price index, which measures price changes before they reach the consumer, was flat after a 0.2% increase in July. In the past year, wholesale prices have actually fallen 0.8%.

Tuition has increased 225% since 1984-85, forcing many students to take out student loans to pay for the increasing cost of higher education. Student loan debt in U.S. has reached $1.2 trillion, causing families, lawmakers and others to worry about students’ ability to pay off this debt, not to mention the potential repercussions of this debt on the economy. Some blame decreases in state funding of higher education due to lower state appropriations during the recession as the reason for this increase in tuition costs.

Persecution Watch

Iraqi Prime Minister Haydar al-Abadi has formed a committee tasked with monitoring the persecution of Christians, reports Catholic news outlet Agenzia Fides. The committee’s goal is to reign in the violent oppression of Christians in areas like Baghdad, where they are victims of kidnapping, extortion and murder. A recent increase in persecution has caused a Christian member of the Iraqi parliament and a leader of the Chaldean Patriarchate to call for greater protection of Christians in Iraq. June and July saw four Christians kidnapped in a two-week span. Two of those kidnapped were found dead – even after their ransom was paid. The Patriarchate is assisting the committee with the gathering of information, and has already delivered records of 14 instances of Christian homes and properties that were seized illegally. One non-governmental organization, Bagdad Beituna (translated, “Baghdad Our Home”), states that “7,000 violations against properties belonging to Iraqi Christians in Baghdad” have occurred since 2003.

Middle East

The U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution Thursday allowing what it officially recognizes as the “State of Palestine” and the Vatican to raise their flags outside of U.N. Headquarters and U.N. offices. In a 119-8 vote, with 45 abstentions, the General Assembly approved a move allowing the two nonmember observer states to raise their flags following the flags of member states. The Vatican announced Wednesday that it had brokered a treaty with the “state of Palestine,” upsetting Israeli advocates and propelling Pope Francis into the heart of yet another geopolitical fray. The treaty is expected to be signed “in the near future,” the Vatican said. Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, is scheduled to visit Pope Francis on Saturday, the day before the church canonizes two Palestinian nuns. Vatican policy, however, has long held that a two-state solution is the best road to peace in the Holy Land. The Vatican has referred to Palestine as a state since November 2012, when the United Nations voted to recognize it as a nonmember observer state.

Israel will not exist in another quarter century, Iran’s supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said during a speech this week in Tehran, state-run media report. “God willing, there will be no such thing as a Zionist regime in 25 years. Until then, struggling, heroic and jihadi morale will leave no moment of serenity for Zionists,” he said. From London, where he is meeting with UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took the opportunity to reiterate his opposition to the recently signed nuclear deal, saying that Khamenei’s words leave its supporters with no “room for illusion” about its true intentions. “He has made it clear that the U.S. is the Great Satan and that Iran intends to destroy the state of Israel.” Netanyahu said in a statement.

Islamic State

The Islamic State (ISIS) is now offering a Norwegian and a Chinese hostage ‘for sale.’ The two men are shown in the ISIS online magazine Dabiq standing in yellow jumpsuits, staring toward a camera with a chilling message posted below their portraits: “FOR SALE.” ISIS is asking an undisclosed ransom to pay for their “release and transfer.” An ominous warning appears beneath an Iraqi phone number at the bottom of each page: “Note: This is a limited time offer.” Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg confirmed that the kidnappers have asked for specific ransom amounts several times in the past, but Norway will not pay. ISIS has taken dozens of international hostages seeking ransoms for them to swell its coffers. Apparently some ransoms have been paid.

In a blistering new message, the leader of al Qaeda denounces the leader of ISIS as the illegitimate leader of a phony caliphate. Exposing a glaring hostility between the two jihadi groups, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al Qaeda, openly attacks ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi for usurping the jihadi movement. “We do not acknowledge this Caliphate,” he says, according to a translation from SITE Intelligence posted Wednesday. He dismisses al-Baghdadi as a pretender who declared himself caliph with the support of only “a few unknown people,” and established ISIS, which calls itself the Islamic State, “by force and with explosions and car bombs,” instead of by “the choice of the people” through “approval and consultation.” Georgetown University’s Nicholas Palarino says al-Baghdadi is stealing his thunder, and al-Zawahiri feels threatened. “You can compare it to two drug gangs, or two mafia mobs. One is encroaching on the other’s territory.”

European Migration Woes

France and Britain on Monday offered haven to a combined 44,000 migrants, the latest efforts by Europe to cope with its worst migration crisis since World War II. The twin announcements follow a pledge of $6.6 billion made by Germany late Sunday night to care for hundreds of thousands entering the country. The aid package will provide asylum seekers improved housing, language courses and enhanced security. Germany’s vice chancellor said his country could take in 500,000 refugees annually for the next several years. Germany’s welcome mat for migrants has sparked a backlash in the country. In recent months refugee centers across Germany have been the subject of apparent attacks by anti-migrant extremists. Germany and France are calling for a quota system so migrants are more evenly distributed across the 28-nation European Union. President Barack Obama has ordered his team to admit at least 10,000 Syrian refugees next year, the White House said Thursday, amid criticism that the United States has not done enough.

Syria

Almost half (49%) of Syria’s population have now fled their homeland since war broke out in 2011 in an attempt to remove President Assad from power. Since then rival factions have warred against each other and the Islamic State took over a third of the country as part of its new caliphate. The fighting and later rise of ISIS have forced 10.6 million people to leave their homes. About 6.5 million of those are displaced within Syria, but nearly 4.1 million have fled to nearby countries, mostly in Europe.

Russia

U.S. officials are expressing growing concern about Russia’s military build-up in Assad-controlled Syria, calling it “unprecedented” — with one telling Fox News it compares in scope to Vladimir Putin’s incursion into Crimea. Sources in Lebanon were reporting Wednesday that Russian troops have engaged in combat operations in support of the Assad regime in neighboring Syria, although so far the number of ground troops is reported to be small. Russia’s Foreign Ministry revealed early Wednesday that Russian military experts are assisting forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in that country’s long-running civil war. The statement by Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova to Reuters marks the first confirmation from Moscow that members of the Russian military are on the ground in Syria after weeks of reports that Russia had stepped up its support for the embattled Assad regime. Zakharova said the advisers were assisting with Russian arms deliveries to Syrian government forces, which Moscow says are aimed at fighting Islamist militants.

Nigeria

Schoolchildren in Nigeria are returning to school next week – but not the hundreds of thousands of children displaced by terrorist violence. Islamic extremist rebel group Boko Haram stepped up attacks on civilians after Muhammadu Buhari took office as president of Nigeria on May 29, casting a shadow over the government’s recovery of territory earlier this year and adding to the more than 1.5 million internally displaced people (IDPs). About half of Nigeria’s displaced people are children, and an indigenous ministry is focusing on their needs. “Schoolchildren have been out of school now for many months or even years,” said the director of the ministry based in the capital, Abuja. “Can we allow these children in the IDP camps to be without schools, when we Christians have the opportunity to show the love of Christ and empower them by giving them schooling?” The ministry, unnamed for security reasons, plans to send hundreds of children to rural schools in safe areas of Adamawa and Niger states.

Wildfires

California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in northern California where an explosive wildfire forced the evacuation of 2,700 residents Friday. The Butte Fire in Amador & Calaveras Counties surged from a few hundred acres Thursday to nearly 65,000 as of Saturday morning and is still only 5 percent contained. Mandatory evacuations were ordered for the town of San Andreas, about 60 miles southeast of Sacramento. Six homes and two outbuildings burned Thursday, and 6,000 more are threatened. The number of homes burned could increase because the blaze was moving through rural areas with houses.

Pestilence

After discovering a frozen giant 30,000-year-old virus, French scientists plan to reanimate it in order to explore how it developed. Unearthed from 100 feet of Siberian permafrost, Mollivirus Sibericum, which means “soft virus from Siberia,” measures 0.6 microns, making it a giant virus compared to regular virus specimens which are less than half a micron. NewsWeek reports that this is the fourth type of prehistoric virus found since 2003, all of which have proven to be harmless. However, as reported by weather.com, these kind of discoveries raise the possibility that, as the climate warms and exploration expands in long-untouched regions of Siberia, humans could release ancient or eradicated viruses which might be harmful.

Weather

A bout of extreme weather is bombarding Southern California with heat, hail and flooding, which has killed one, and at one point, stranded several motorists. Moisture from Tropical Storm Linda is reaching north into portions of Southern California. The amount of moisture in the atmosphere is considerably above average and will promote drenching thunderstorms across the area through the end of the week.

One person died and another remains missing after heavy rainfall triggered floods in the San Antonio area on Thursday. Four people were attempting to cross a creek near Interstate 10 when floodwaters swept them away Thursday evening – three were rescued the fourth is missing. In just 22 minutes Thursday afternoon, San Antonio International Airport picked up 1.01 inches of rain.

Dramatic helicopter rescues were conducted in Japan Thursday as a flood-swollen river breached a levee, sending raging floodwaters into a neighborhood north of Tokyo and leaving dozens of residents trapped on the roofs or upper floors of their homes. Three people are confirmed dead, 23 are reported missing, and 27 others have been injured due to the extreme rainfall resulting from former Tropical Storm Etau. At least 93 landslides, and left several thousand people stranded. Rare emergency warnings for heavy rainfall, flooding and landslides were issued for nearly 5 million people in two prefectures near Tokyo Thursday morning as torrential rain continued to inundate parts of Japan, flooding hundreds of homes north of Tokyo, where more than 20 inches of rain fell in 24 hours. Over 10,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes.

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One Response to “Signs of the Times (9/12/15)”

  1. Hilma Newsome Says:

    I like this web blog very much so much excellent info.

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