Signs of the Times (9/26/15)

Pope Regurgitates Global Marxist Agenda

Pope Francis urged the United States not to turn its back on undocumented immigrants, to reject the victimization of religious and ethnic minorities, to overcome income inequality and to save the planet from climate change in a historic address to Congress Thursday. Pope Francis also asked lawmakers to wage a constant battle against poverty and to ensure the wealth of the world is equitably shared and used to create jobs. Francis is on a six-day U.S. visit and is the first-ever pontiff to address a joint meeting of Congress. Pope Francis called on world leaders gathered at the United Nations in New York on Friday to take firm action on the environment, blaming a “selfish and boundless thirst for power and material” for its destruction. Socialist Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was ecstatic over the pope’s address to Congress, reports Cliff Kincaid in a NewsWithViews.com column. “In a message to his supporters, titled, ‘Why we must listen to Pope Francis,’ he was particularly pleased with the fact that in his address to Congress, ‘Pope Francis spoke of Dorothy Day, who was a tireless advocate for the impoverished and working people in America.” Day was a Marxist apologist for socialism and communist regimes. Phyllis Bennis of the Marxist Institute for Policy Studies agreed. The list of left-wing causes in the pope’s address was extensive, Bennis noted. Praising “his uniquely progressive papal perspective,” far-left radio host Amy Goodman noted that “The pope has been frank in his criticism of much of the core of U.S. society: capitalism, consumerism, war and the failure to confront climate change.”

  • Pope Francis is using the U.S. as a stage to promote the socialistic agenda of the one-world government folks

Pope Fails to Mention Jesus or Abortion

While touting the one-world government’s agenda, Pope Francis didn’t even mention Jesus once in his speech to Congress. Denny Burk, professor of Biblical Studies at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said he was “disappointed” in the Pope’s speech to Congress. “He stands before the United States Congress—a platform that commands the attention of the world—and he says nothing about the heart of the Christian gospel,” Burke wrote in a column for his site. “Nothing about Jesus Christ crucified and raised for sinners. Nothing about the Kingdom of God and the renewal of all things in Christ.” Burke also added that the Pope didn’t “mention abortion explicitly.” “He spoke specifically to defend the lives of the guilty from the death penalty. But he said nothing specific to defend the lives of the innocent millions who have been killed legally in our country since 1973.”

Critics say Pope’s Remarks on Priest Sexual Abuse too Tepid

A group representing victims of priest sexual abuse blasted Pope Francis Wednesday for his remarks to U.S. bishops praising their response to the scandal while failing to utter the words “sexual abuse.” Francis referred to the crisis only obliquely, telling the bishops he was “conscious of the courage with which you have faced difficult moments in the recent history of the Church in this country without fear of self-criticism and at the cost of mortification and great sacrifice.” “What sacrifice?” said Barbara Blaine of Chicago, the president of Survivor’s Network of Those Abused by Priests. “What bishop takes fewer vacations, drives a smaller car, does his own laundry or has been passed over for promotion because he’s shielding predators and endangering kids? None.” Allegations of sexual abuse by priests date back decades, but exploded into a full-blown crisis in 2002 when the Boston Globe published a Pulitzer Prize-winning series detailing a litany of abuses and cover-ups by bishops.

Pope Francis Makes Quiet Protest of Obamacare

Pope Francis made an unscheduled stop to visit the Little Sisters of the Poor Wednesday, a move that Vatican officials said was intended to send a message of support in the nuns’ battle against Obamacare. The religious order of Catholic sisters is suing the Obama administration over a provision of the Affordable Care Act that the administration has interpreted as requiring the sisters to purchase health insurance with birth control coverage. Catholic teaching opposes the use of birth control. The sisters are suing under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a Clinton-era law that prohibits the government from placing a “substantial burden” on the free exercise of religion.

Feds Say Nearly 18 Million Now Insured Through Obamacare

Nearly 18 million people have gained health insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act, but 10.5 million more remain uninsured, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said Tuesday. Citing just-released federal data, Burwell said the 17.6 million people who gained coverage included children up to age 26 who were able to stay on their parents’ plans, the expansion of Medicaid and the availability of the state and federal insurance exchanges. Burwell also noted that the uninsured rate dropped 10.3% among African-Americans as 2.6 million gained coverage. Four million Latino adults also became insured, representing an 11.5% decline in the rate of uninsured Hispanics.

Rubio Announces Boehner Resignation at Values Voter Summit

Attendees at the annual Values Voter Summit learned from presidential candidate Marco Rubio Friday morning that House Speaker John Boehner is stepping down. U.S. Senator Rubio made the announcement midway through his political stump speech, drawing a standing ovation and raucous applause from the surprised audience of evangelical conservatives. The battle among Capitol Hill Republicans to replace House Speaker John Boehner will likely unfold like the one that led to Boehner’s resignation: GOP leadership vs. the party’s most conservative caucus. Members of Boehner’s leadership team already appear to be positioning themselves for the job of running the Republican-controlled chamber. However, ascending to the speakership will be difficult for any of them, considering a relatively small-but-powerful number of House Republicans who repeatedly suggested Boehner and his leadership team wasn’t conservative enough and derailed several legislative initiatives.

Economic News – Domestic

The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday declared a state of emergency on homelessness, calling for $100 million to help address the growing crisis. The move was announced the same day the mayor unveiled his plans for moving people off the streets. Since the mayor took office two years ago, homelessness in Los Angeles has increased 12%, according to figures released by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. Los Angeles has one of the largest unsheltered populations in the country, with more than 25,000 homeless residents. Some of them live on the city’s infamous Skid Row, a makeshift camp on public sidewalks that stretches for blocks.

New oil and gas production projects worth $1.5 trillion are at risk because of plunging prices. Research firm Wood Mackenzie said the planned projects are unlikely to go ahead because they’re uneconomic at current prices of less than $50 a barrel. Oil and gas groups have already cut investment for this year and next by $220 billion. But Wood Mackenzie warned the cuts do not go far enough, and many more investment plans will have to be scrapped.

The oil rigs in North Dakota are vanishing, a sign that the slide in oil prices is taking a big toll. There are now only 68 rigs operating in the state, down 65% in the past year, according to state figures. The sharp decline in further exploration is cutting into jobs and the state’s tax revenues. The number of mining and logging jobs in North Dakota, a category that includes oil field workers, has dropped by 3,700, or 12%, since March. Tax revenues in the state in August were 20% below forecasts, a $47.4 million shortfall.

Orders for durable goods fell 2% last month in contrast to July when orders had risen by 1.9%, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. A key category that serves as a proxy for business investment edged down 0.2% last month after gains of 2.1% in July and 1.5% in June. The underlying demand for manufactured goods has been weaker this year as a strong dollar and China’s economic slowdown have dragged down demand for American exports and big declines in oil prices have resulted in cutbacks in investment by energy companies. In August, demand for commercial aircraft fell for a second month, dropping 5.9% after an 8.7% decline in July. Orders for motor vehicles and parts fell 1.6% after gains in the two previous months.

New home sales for single families totaled 552,000 homes last month. That’s the best monthly figure since February 2008 and an encouraging sign of the housing market’s momentum. It was nearly a 6% increase from July. Still, the figure is a far cry from the historic average: the average monthly number of new home sales over the last 30 years is 706,000.

Economic News – International

China’s economic slowdown and cheap oil are killing more American jobs. This time. Caterpillar announced that job cuts could exceed 10,000 through 2018. Up to 5,000 employees will lose jobs between now and the end of 2016. The moves are aimed at cutting $1.5 billion in annual costs as the global growth outlook continues to darken. Nearly 10% of the company’s revenue is generated in China.

China — the largest holder of U.S. debt — raised eyebrows by disclosing a record $94 billion plunge in foreign-exchange reserves during August. A big chunk of that decline occurred due to a reduction in U.S. Treasury holdings. The sale raised fears that China could sink the American economy by sending borrowing costs surging as it stops lending the U.S. money by buying Treasuries. China badly needs cash to offset a massive outflow of capital triggered by its currency devaluation, stock market crash and economic slowdown.

Europe’s Migration Crisis

European Union ministers on Tuesday approved a plan for individual countries in the bloc to accept a share of the hundreds of thousands of refugees seeking asylum on the continent — but only after overruling four former Soviet bloc countries. The home affairs and interior ministers, meeting in an emergency session here, voted on a plan to apportion 120,000 refugees — still only a small fraction of those flowing into Europe — among members of the European Union. The dissenters were the ministers representing the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. Under European law, three of the countries — the Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia — would be required to accept migrants against their will noted one official. The idea behind the plan is to relieve the pressure on front-line nations like Italy and Greece, which migrants from the Middle East, Afghanistan and African have been flooding into. Slovakia says it will try and block European Union plans to relocate 120,000 migrants and refugees from Greece, Hungary and Italy to other countries under a mandatory quota system, as divisions grew among EU member states over how to manage the crisis.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says 477,906 people have arrived in Europe by sea this year. It is calling for the EU to go beyond relocating 120,000 refugees approved by European Union interior ministers. The Balkan nation of Croatia grappled with an increasing wave of migrants on Tuesday. Croatian officials said that 2,400 migrants had entered the country in just the past 12 hours. Nearly 35,000 people had previously arrived in the country, which has a population of only 4.4 million. Croatia said 5,100 were transported out of the country on Monday and a further 1,160 by Tuesday morning. Currently 1,630 people are at a camp in Opatovac, in eastern Croatia near the border with Serbia. The migrant crisis sweeping Europe can’t be resolved without cooperation from the U.S., Russia and Middle Eastern countries,

German Chancellor Angel Merkel said Thursday. Iran and Saudi Arabia should also be key players, she said. The U.S. and Russia are at odds over how to deal with Syria, which has been torn by the Islamic State’s violent insurgency and a brutal civil war that has been raging for more than four years. Russian President Vladimir Putin blames the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Syrians on Western foreign policy. The U.S. and European governments, however, condemn Putin’s support of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime and the Russian military buildup in Syria.

Middle East

Israeli forces shot a female Palestinian attacker after she attempted to stab a soldier at a West Bank checkpoint on Tuesday, the military said, as tensions continued to simmer ahead of this week’s major Jewish and Muslim holidays. The woman was identified as 18-year-old university student and was in critical condition at an Israeli hospital but had no further details. The soldier was not wounded. Earlier Tuesday, the military said a Palestinian was found dead in a village near Hebron allegedly after an explosive device he was handling went off. The violence comes amid rising tensions surrounding Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. The site, holy to both Jews and Muslims, has been a flashpoint for violence in recent days.

Iran’s Army commander on Tuesday voiced the country’s eagerness to face down Israel militarily and destroy the regime even sooner than the next 25 years, a period that Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei has recently cited as the timeframe for Israel’s eradication. ‘We will annihilate Israel for sure,’ Major General Ataollah Salehi told reporters on the sidelines of military parades in Tehran, held to commemorate the start of the Sacred Defense Week. ‘We are also eager that Israel take (military) action against us sooner, so that we would mark the destruction (of Israel) earlier than the 25 years that has been pledged,’ the top commander added. Major General Salehi noted that annihilation of the Tel Aviv regime by Iran will even rid the ‘US nation’ of the Israeli influence.

Multiple senior Iranian officials have vowed in recent weeks to violate the recently inked nuclear accord that aims to constrain the Islamic Republic’s contested nuclear enrichment program, according to multiple comments by top Iranian leaders. Iranian leaders, including President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, have said that the country has “no intention” of abiding by a United Nations Security Council Resolution that encompasses the deal and other restrictions on Tehran’s rogue activities

  • These are the people with whom we have signed a nuclear agreement that lifts economic sanctions in exchange for their worthless promises that they have no intention of keeping, while they keep their eyes on their ultimate goal – first, the elimination of Israel and then the destruction of the ‘Great Satan’ (the U.S.)

Islamic State

Russian, Syrian and Iranian military commanders have set up a coordination cell in Baghdad in recent days to try to begin working with Iranian-backed Shia militias fighting the Islamic State, Fox News reported. Western intelligence sources say the coordination cell includes low-level Russian generals. U.S. officials say it is not clear whether the Iraqi government is involved at the moment. Describing the arrival of Russian military personnel in Baghdad, one senior U.S. official said, ‘They are popping up everywhere.’ The Russians already have been building up their military presence in Syria, a subject expected to factor prominently in a planned meeting between President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin in New York Monday on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. While the U.S. also is fighting the Islamic State, the Obama administration has voiced concern that Russia’s involvement, at least in Syria, could have a destabilizing effect.

  • The end-time alliance between the Persians and Russia (Ezekiel 38) is well underway

Syria

U.S.-trained rebels in Syria handed over American-supplied vehicles and ammunition to an al-Qaeda linked group, the Pentagon said Friday in the latest blow to a program plagued by problems since its inception. The equipment was about a quarter of what the rebels were issued and was turned over in exchange for safe passage through an area controlled by the Nusra Front. The allegations, if true, would be “a violation of Syria train-and-equip program guidelines,” Col. Patrick Ryder, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, said in the statement. The program is part of an effort to get Syrian rebels to form a ground force to combat the Islamic State. The rebels are trained by U.S. advisers in locations outside the country and then inserted back into Syria.

  • When will we ever learn that the weaponry we supply to militants and insurgents often wind up in the hands of our foes?

Saudi Arabia

At least 717 people were killed and more than 800 injured in a stampede Thursday during the annual hajj pilgrimage just outside Mecca, Saudi officials said. Saudi Arabia’s civil defense directorate said the incident happened in Mina, about three miles from Mecca, Islam’s holiest city. It said the dead are of several different nationalities. Officials said around 4,000 rescue workers and 220 ambulances were sent to the scene. Stampedes have happened before in Mina, a valley where the symbolic “stoning of the devil” — the last major rite of the pilgrimage — occurs. Pilgrims sleep in 160,000 tents in Mina during the hajj. Hundreds of thousands of people had gathered for the rite, where pebbles are thrown against three stone pillars representing the devil. There was a “sudden increase” in pilgrims heading toward the pillars inside the structure, which “resulted in a stampede among the pilgrims.

Yemen

At least 25 people were killed in a suicide bombing at a mosque in Yemen’s capital Thursday as worshippers said prayers to mark the Muslim holy day of Eid al-Adha. Two explosions struck the al-Bolayli mosque in Sanaa on the holiday, also known as the Feast of Sacrifice, one of Islam’s two most important. Dozens of others were wounded in the morning blast. An Islamic State affiliate in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attack, which took place in an area controlled by Shiite rebels known as the Houthis. The Islamic State is a Sunni militant group, and it has targeted the Shiite rebels in the past because it views them as heretics.

Ukraine

Ukraine and Russia may be headed for a fresh conflict over Crimea, where ethnic Tatars and members of a Ukrainian extremist group blockaded truck traffic into the Ukrainian province seized by Russia last year. The blockade on three highways by the Tatars and Right Sector, in its third day Tuesday, prevents food and other supplies from entering the peninsular province. It is a legal protest approved by Ukraine’s Interior Ministry, according to the Kyiv Post newspaper. It comes as Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko hopes to focus world attention on Crimea in a speech next week at the U.N. General Assembly in New York. The demonstration, led by the Tatars elected leaders, is allowing people to pass but not truck cargo. “It’s a demonstration for Russia that Crimean Tatars will not give up on Ukraine,” said Ukraine’s ambassador to Washington, Valeriy Chaly,

China

The specter of China surpassing the United States as an economic superpower was all the talk when President Obama visited Beijing in 2014. Today, China’s economy is stumbling. Its stock market has shed 45% since June, and the country’s extraordinary actions to get things going haven’t been very successful. China’s economy is heavily dependent on making goods and selling them to other people around the world, especially the U.S. During his second day in Seattle, Chinese President Xi Jinping met Wednesday with some of the biggest names in the tech and aerospace industries. Boeing and Xi announced that Chinese companies have inked a deal to buy 300 more Boeing (BA) planes this year. According to the company, China will need an estimated 6,330 new airplanes over the next 20 years, a deal worth $950 billion. President Obama and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping vowed Friday not to engage in economic cyber espionage, to cooperate more on climate change, and to work out disputes in the South China Sea region while indicating that differences remain in what has become a tense relationship between key global powers.

Wildfires

The Valley fire in northern California has now reduced more than 1,750 structures to ash, according to CalFire. Factor in another large wildfire still burning in Northern California, the Butte fire, and the total number of houses, outbuildings and commercial properties destroyed nears 2,700. Together, the two fires have burned through about 229 square miles, an area roughly the size of the city of Chicago. A 1991 fire in Oakland Hills burned 2,900 structures and still ranks as the worst fire in state history in that category.

As wildfires blazed in nearby Indonesia, schools in Singapore were closed Friday and anti-pollution masks were distributed to the elderly and other vulnerable residents. Pollution levels on the island nation, an annual problem for Singapore, reached their highest levels of the year this week. It resembles a wintry fog, removing the skyline from sight and even seeping into homes. Caused by burning forests to clear farmland in Indonesia, repeated efforts to end the practice have been unsuccessful. As a result, residents in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia suffer the consequences, especially children, the elderly and those with breathing difficulties.

Weather

High surf with large breaking waves and rip currents can be expected through the weekend from the New Jersey shore southward to at least the northern Outer Banks of North Carolina. Even experienced swimmers should stay out of the water due to the rip current threat. Over 30,000 rip current rescues are performed each year in the U.S., often occurring in waves of just 2-3 feet. Breaking waves along the east coast will be at least in the 6-9 foot range. Even the ocean beaches of Long Island are expected to see breakers in the 3-5 foot range.

A confirmed tornado hit an area just west of Charleston, South Carolina, overnight Thursday, damaging houses and downing trees. No injuries were reported in the twister. The National Weather Service confirmed the tornado was of EF2 intensity on the Enhanced Fujita Scale early Friday evening. Two homes were majorly impacted, including one that lost most of its roof and external walls. The tornado damaged several other homes and downed traffic lights in the area. More than 3,400 homes and businesses were without power early Friday morning.

As climate change melts permafrost in the Arctic, huge amounts of carbon dioxide and methane are released into the atmosphere, speeding global warming in the process. The study, published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, shows that permafrost soils contain roughly 1,700 gigatons of carbon locked in frozen organic matter, which has begun to thaw as the globe warms. The study shows that the issues negotiators will be dealing with during this December’s COP21 international climate talks are even more severe than previously thought, Hope said.

  • Extreme weather is an end-time phenomena, regardless of what humans do or don’t do (Daniel 9:26b, Revelation 8:7, 11:19, 16:11)

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