Signs of the Times (10/8/15)

Despite Rising Violence, Christians Lead Global Prayer Initiative Near Temple Mount

Hundreds gathered this week in the Christ Church in the Old City of Jerusalem to pray following attacks near the Temple Mount. Millions of Christians around the world also prayed Sunday for the Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem. “We pray that as Christian brothers and sisters we no longer can be silent among the nations … bind us together with our Jewish brothers and sisters, for together we are the family of the One True God,” prayed Ken Howard of Christian Friends of Israel. According to Charisma News, Christians from more than 175 nations gathered to pray in their homes and churches for Jerusalem. They also joined in prayer through the prayer app, “Instapray,” and on a 24 hour Prayer Conference Call.

California Governor Signs ‘Right to Die’ Bill

“The crux of the matter is whether the state of California should continue to make it a crime for a dying person to end his life,” Brown said, “no matter how great his pain and suffering.” The governor made his perspective clear — and made ABX2 15, which is also called the “End of Life Option Act,” a statewide law — when he signed the controversial legislation Monday. Californians Against Assisted Suicide, an alliance opposed to the measure, said policymakers should have first thought about how the law will affect the disadvantaged, not the well-connected, like Brown. “As someone of wealth and access to the world’s best medical care and doctors, the governor’s background is very different than that of millions of Californians living in health care poverty without that same access,” said the coalition. “These are the people and families potentially hurt by giving doctors the power to prescribe lethal overdoses to patients.”

  • “Right to Die” is a euphemism for assisted-suicide, just like “pro-choice” is a nicer term for killing babies, all port of the culture of death permeating our Godless culture

Ten Commandments Monument Removed from Oklahoma Capitol Grounds

Workers began removing a Ten Commandments monument from the grounds of the Oklahoma Capitol late Monday in accordance with a court order. The Daily Oklahoman reported that the 6-foot high monument would be reinstalled outside the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, a conservative think tank. The removal comes after the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s decision in June that the display violates a state constitutional prohibition on the use of public property to support “any sect, church, denomination or system of religion.” The Daily Oklahoman reported that the private contractor was hired to move the 4,800-pound monument out of concern that state workers could not safely do the job without damaging or destroying it. Its placement at the Capitol prompted requests from several groups to have their own monuments installed, including a satanic church in New York that wanted to erect a 7-foot-tall statue that depicts Satan as Baphomet, a goat-headed figure with horns, wings and a long beard. A Hindu leader in Nevada, an animal rights group and the satirical Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster also made requests.

Scientists Urge the Arrest of Those who Oppose Global Warming

Top UN scientist Dr. Kevin Trenberth and 19 other scientists have become so tired of debating global warming that they are now apparently seeking to jail those who disagree with them, says climatechangedispatch.com. In a letter addressed to President Obama, the twenty climate scientists asked him to prosecute people who disagree with them on the science behind man-made global warming, The Daily Caller reported. Scientists from several universities and research centers even asked Obama to use the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) to prosecute groups that “have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change, as a means to forestall America’s response to climate change.

Obama Administration and UN Announce Global Police Force to Fight ‘Extremism’ In U.S.

On Wednesday, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced at the United Nations that her office would be working in several American cities to form what she called the Strong Cities Network (SCN), a law enforcement initiative that would encompass the globe. “Cities are vital partners in international efforts to build social cohesion and resilience to violent extremism,” claims the Justice Department website. “The SCN will strengthen strategic planning and practices to address violent extremism in all its forms by fostering collaboration among cities, municipalities and other sub-national authorities.”

  • This represents a further subjugation of U.S. sovereignty to U.N. and international law under the pretext of countering extremism. Who are the extremists? Those who oppose the mobilizing one-world government? Those who oppose gay marriage and abortion? Christians in general?

‘Jade Helm’ Military Exercises a Prelude to Martial Law?

The US military has quietly added more states to its eight-week Jade Helm joint training drill, originally designated to take place in seven southwestern states. Speaking of the exercise at the Brazos County Commissioners Court in Texas last month, Jade Helm Operations Planner and retired Green Beret Thomas Mead told an audience that the drill, which will run from July 15 to September 15, will now include the states Mississippi and Florida. The interagency, unconventional warfare exercise, lasting eight weeks, will utilize 1,200 Special Forces personnel from multiple branches of the US military, including Army Green Berets, Navy Seals, Marine Special Operations Command and the 82nd Airborne Division. The military says the exercise serves to hone troops’ advanced skills in “large areas of undeveloped land with low population densities,” and will allow them to work alongside “civilians to gain their trust and an understanding of the issues.”

  • This is just another step of preparation for exerting military control under U.N. authority in order to enforce global sustainability initiatives such as global warming

6,000 Federal Inmates to be Released

In a move to reduce prison overcrowding and provide relief to inmates given harsh sentences in drug cases, the federal Bureau of Prisons will grant early release to about 6,000 inmates beginning later this month, officials confirmed to CNN. The mass release is the largest in the Bureau of Prisons history and the first wave of what could be tens of thousands of early releases, officials said. The mass release was triggered by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which lowered maximum sentences for drug offenders last year and made the change retroactive. Even with the Sentencing Commission’s reductions, drug offenders will have served substantial prison sentences, the Justice Department said. Moreover, the reductions are not automatic, she said. Under the commission’s directive, federal judges are required to carefully consider public safety in deciding whether to reduce an inmate’s sentence. Many of those to be released are small-time drug dealers. But an AP analysis also found that some carried semi-automatic weapons, had past convictions for robbery and other crimes, moved cocaine shipments across states, and participated in international heroin smuggling.

Hackers Cost U.S. Firms Millions

According to a new report by Hewlett Packard and the U.S.-based Ponemon Institute of Cyber Crime, hacking attacks cost the average American firm $15.4 million per year, double the global average of $7.7 million. In a survey of more than 2,000 executives and employees in 250 organizations worldwide, the report’s authors found that cybercrime affected all industries and all markets. The global financial services and energy sectors were the worst hit, with average annual costs of $13.5 and $12.8 million respectively. Rising business expenses come as the cost to hackers themselves is plunging, thanks to a proliferation of botnets that make launching DDoS attacks cheap and simple, and the easy sharing of tools and exploits on “dark net” forums and marketplaces. According to cybersecurity firm Incapsula, the price of launching a DDoS (Denial of Service) attack has plummeted to just $38 per hour. By comparison, “the real-world cost of an unmitigated attack is $40,000 per hour” for businesses, reports CNN Money.

California’s Farmers Hurt by Drought & Environmental Regulations

Drought-stricken California farmers say environmental regulations barring them from irrigating their parched lands are making them the endangered species. With the drought entering its fourth year, anger is building in central California at state and federal agencies, who critics say are putting wildlife ahead of jobs, families and the food supply. Blocked by environmentalists from pumping water from rivers onto their arid lands, farmers blame both regulations and the agencies and activists who go to court to enforce them. “These are communities who rely almost solely upon agricultural production or agri-business activities,” Gayle Holman, spokeswoman for the nation’s largest agricultural water supplier, the Westlands Water District, told FoxNews.com. “If we continue down this path, we will most likely see our food production turn to foreign soil. We could lose the economic engine that agriculture brings to our nation.” The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife have placed heavy regulations on the water that pours down from the snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains. In the name of the Endangered Species Act, and on behalf of such native fish species as the tiny delta smelt, environmental groups’ efforts to block the diversion of water for farm use has left ranches, orchards and farms dry – and unproductive.

Prescription Drugs Cost More on Obamacare

Health Affairs, one of the nation’s definitive health policy publications, reported Monday that patients whose prescription drug plans are covered under Obamacare must pay, on average, 46 percent more than those who are covered under an employer-based drug plan. Depending on which tier of Obamacare coverage you choose, those costs can rise even higher. “The most popular [Obamacare] Marketplace plan — the silver plan — has significantly higher cost sharing than does a typical employer-sponsored plan, which may cause patients to reduce the use of cost-saving services that are essential for managing chronic conditions,” the report summary states.

Economic News

U.S. oil production decreased by 120,000 barrels per day in September from August, according to a report released by the Energy Information Administration on Tuesday. It marks the lowest monthly output in the last 12 months. And it was the fourth in the past five months that U.S. production has declined. U.S. oil output still stands at a robust 9 million barrels per day, nearly double the amount of oil pumped in late 2008. The news sent oil prices rallying nearly 5% on Tuesday to $48.53 a barrel, the highest level in a month.

World economic growth this year will be the weakest since 2009, the International Monetary Fund said Tuesday. The IMF now expects global growth of just 3.1% this year, down from its previous forecast of 3.3%.It blamed China’s slowdown, low commodity prices, and the expected increase in U.S. interest rates, for the slump. The IMF said that increased market volatility in August, and the depreciation of the yuan, has fueled uncertainty and risk aversion. Political instability in many parts of the world is also stifling growth, it said.

Persecution Watch

Three Christian men in India have been arrested and held on charges of converting the local people to Christianity in the village of Motawa in northern India. The Indian Express reports that the three menare volunteers for Gospel Echoing Missionary Society. Activists accused the men of going against anti-conversion laws and attempting to convert the local people to Christianity, as well as showing a Gospel film. Others accused the men of baptizing villagers and encouraging them to read the Bible. There were also reports of women who were healed of various ailments after attending medical camps organized by GEMS.

The headmaster of a school in Pakistan was badly beaten and abused by his Muslim co-workers. Christian Today reports that Saddique Azam’s position as Headmaster of Pernawa village school has been an issue of controversy since he was promoted to the position three months ago. Azam is a Christian and his Muslim co-workers didn’t approve of his faith and didn’t think a Christian should have a position of authority over them. The Muslim attackers tried to threaten and beat Azam into resigning, but he did not give in to their demands so they beat him. Police arrested the three Muslim teachers, but did not file charges against them.

Israel

After Israel complained for years that it was surrounded by oil-rich states but didn’t have a drop within its own borders, it appears there’s a big-time turnaround with the announcement Wednesday that massive oil reserves have been located in the Golan Heights, close to the country’s border with Syria. Afek Oil and Gas, an Israeli subsidiary of the U.S. company Genie Energy, confirmed the find in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 TV, but conceded that until the oil is actually extracted, they won’t be sure of the actual amounts and quality of the oil that has been discovered. Experts say actually extracting meaningful quantities of oil from the deposits is likely some time away.

Middle East

The spike in violence between Palestinians and Israelis shows no signs of abating, with three stabbing attacks reported Thursday. In Tel Aviv, a female Israeli soldier was stabbed with a screwdriver, allegedly by a Palestinian. Another soldier shot the attacker dead. In the Kiryat Arba settlement in the West Bank city of Hebron, an Israeli man was in serious condition after being stabbed in the stomach, Samri said. Israeli security forces are still looking for that attacker. Earlier Thursday, a Palestinian stabbed an ultra-Orthodox Jewish student, 25, in Jerusalem, wounding him seriously, police said. A 19-year-old Palestinian from the Shuafat refugee camp has been arrested in that attack at a light rail station near Jerusalem’s main police headquarters. These are the latest in a series of knife and gun attacks on Israelis, many concentrated in Jerusalem, the city that both sides claim as their capital. Four Israelis were killed in two attacks last week.

Islamic State

Russian warships targeted the Islamic State in Syria with missiles, officials said Wednesday. Four warships carried out 26 missile strikes from the Caspian Sea, destroying all the 11 targets more than 900 miles away, Russia’s TASS news agency reported. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said, that Russia will coordinate its actions in Syria with Turkey and the United States. “Without each other’s support, we will not likely solve this problem.” A Syrian official said government troops, backed by Russian airstrikes, launched a ground offensive against insurgents in the central part of the country Wednesday.

Women drawn to the Islamic State, often by romantic notions of supporting revolutionaries and living in a state that exalts their religion, can find themselves part of an institutionalized, near-assembly-line system to provide fighters with wives, sex and children. Three young Yazidis who escaped from the Islamic militants’ brutal clutches said ISIS uses serial rape to ‘convert’ these women to Islam. After abducting hundreds of young women and girls from their homes in Iraq’s Sinjar province last August, ISIS fighters rounded the captives up in “slave markets” where they were picked out to be used for sex. Some of them were shown videos of beheadings and then told “You have two choices, convert to Islam. Or die like this.” ISIS militants have kidnapped, raped, tortured and massacred thousands of Yazidis. The United Nations has accused ISIS of committing genocide against them.

Syria

Russian-backed Syrian government troops launched a ground offensive Thursday to crush rebel forces opposing the regime of President Bashar Assad. Russian President Vladimir Putin is backing longtime ally Assad in his 4-year-old civil war against rebels that now include the Islamic State extremists and more moderate opposition groups backed by the United States. That goal runs counter to the Obama administration’s objectives. It is leading a coalition campaign of airstrikes in Iraq and Syria to defeat the Islamic State and is calling for Assad’s removal. The Pentagon has accused Russia of bolstering Assad by attacking moderate opposition groups the U.S. supports. Russian officials countered that their goal is to go after all terrorist groups. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says there has been a “troubling escalation” in Russian military activity in Syria, after Moscow dramatically expanded its air campaign.

Iran

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday banned any further negotiations between Iran and the United States, putting the brakes on moderates hoping to end Iran’s isolation after reaching a nuclear deal with world powers in July. Khamenei, the highest authority in the Islamic Republic, already said last month there would be no more talks with the United States after the nuclear deal, but has not previously declared an outright ban. His statements directly contradict those of moderate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who says his government is ready to hold talks with the United States on how to resolve the conflict in Syria, where the two countries back opposing sides.

Iran played an integral role leading up to Russia’s move to launch its air campaign in Syria and play a stronger role in Iraq, with one of Tehran’s most powerful generals meeting for three hours with President Vladimir Putin to push for intervention, Iraqi government officials tell The Associated Press. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, went to Moscow in August with the message that Russian airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Syria were imperative, said the two senior officials, who were later briefed on the meeting. Soleimani and Putin reviewed maps and surveillance photos and shared intelligence, all suggesting the militant group would expand its reach to Russia’s doorstep in the Caucuses if Moscow didn’t act, the two officials said. The meeting also covered plans to create a joint intelligence-sharing center between Iraq, Syria, Iran and Russia in Baghdad, which began operating later the same month.

  • An end-time alliance between Russia and Persia (Iran) is prophesied in Ezekiel 38

Addressing concerns that a landmark nuclear deal reached this year could boost Iran’s military power, the Obama administration reassured critics that it would maintain and enforce its remaining tough sanctions against the country. Yet the U.S. government has pursued far fewer violations of a long-standing arms embargo against Iran in the past year compared to recent years, according to a review of court records and interviews with two senior officials involved in sanctions enforcement. The sharp fall in new prosecutions did not reflect fewer attempts by Iran to break the embargo, the officials said. Rather, uncertainty among prosecutors and agents on how the terms of the deal would affect cases made them reluctant to commit already scarce resources with the same vigor as in previous years, the officials said. The more relaxed enforcement raises questions over how strictly the arms embargo and other remaining sanctions will be applied in future, since the nuclear deal still needs to be implemented and Iran will likely remain sensitive to a tough sanctions regime, reports United Against Nuclear Iran.

Yemen

Airstrikes hit a wedding celebration Wednesday in a rebel-held portion of Yemen, killing at least 30 people, local officials said, amid a months-long conflict in which a Saudi-led coalition has bombed rebel areas. Dozens were unaccounted for after the bombing, and hospitals have been overwhelmed with victims, three local security officials said. The Houthi rebels are locked in a bitter conflict with forces loyal to the government of deposed Yemeni President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi. The pro-government fighters have the support of a Saudi-led coalition that has been bombing Houthi-held areas since March.

Fifteen members of a Saudi-led coalition fighting rebels in Yemen were among those killed in a series of explosions in the southern port city of Aden on Tuesday, the United Arab Emirates said. The attacks targeted a hotel that Yemen’s Prime Minister Khaled Bahah and his cabinet use as a base. It is also the residence and headquarters of the UAE troops, who are part of a Saudi-led coalition targeting the rebels, known as Houthis. Government officials said Bahah was not hurt in the attack at Hotel al-Qasr, Al Jazeera reported. Yemen’s internationally recognized President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi fled Aden for Saudi Arabia in March as the Houthis and their allies advanced on the city. In July, the rebels were driven out of Aden by government forces and militias loyal to them. Hadi, who returned to Aden last month, is not reported to be staying at the hotel, the BBC said.

Afghanistan

It took a horrific tragedy to remind the nation that its longest war, though often forgotten, is by no means gone. Outrage over the bombing of a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, by an American gunship Saturday focused increasingly rare media scrutiny on a conflict in which U.S. combat officially ended last year — but where fighting still rages. The attack renew serious doubts about the limits of cooperation between the U.S. and the Afghan units that apparently called in the strike, as well as the basic quality of that American-trained force. Pentagon strategists are also puzzling over how the resurgent Taliban was able to capture Kunduz in the first place. Heading into his final year in office, Obama is weighing whether to go ahead with his plan to bring home almost all U.S. troops in Afghanistan next year to honor a political promise to end the wars he inherited. He may instead opt to leave behind a reduced, but still considerable, U.S. force to boost the country’s vulnerable military forces amid fears that they could eventually collapse under Taliban pressure.

Environment

For just the third time on record, scientists say they are now watching the unfolding of a massive worldwide coral bleaching event, spanning the globe from Hawaii to the Indian Ocean. And they fear that thanks to warm sea temperatures, the ultimate result could be the loss of more than 12,000 square kilometers, or over 4,500 square miles, of coral this year — with particularly strong impacts in Hawaii and other U.S. tropical regions, potentially continuing into 2016. The event is being brought on by a combination of global warming, a very strong El Nino event, and the so-called warm “blob” in the Pacific Ocean, say the researchers. The prior events, were in 1998 and 2010, and those were one year events.

Weather

In the wake of the historic flooding disaster, President Obama signed a disaster declaration for South Carolina Monday, allowing for the allotment of federal funds toward all recovery efforts. River flooding is expected to continue in parts of South Carolina over the next few days even though the heavy rain has dissipated. Residents near one Columbia, South Carolina, lake were told to flee Monday afternoon, as a dam was about to break, potentially putting thousands in the path of millions of gallons of water. Shortly afterward, the dam broke, becoming the 18th dam to breach or fail in the Palmetto State since Saturday. At least 15 people have been killed by the dangerous floods. In South Carolina, authorities warned residents to stay home due to the deadly floods and were also asked to only call 911 in the event of a life-threatening emergency.

The historic flooding in South Carolina is at least the sixth so-called 1-in-1,000 year rain event in the U.S. since 2010, a trend that may be linked to factors ranging from the natural, such as a strong El Niño, to the man-made, namely climate change. So many “1-in-1,000 year” rainfalls is unprecedented, said meteorologist Steve Bowen of Aon Benfield, a global reinsurance firm. In addition to this weekend’s floods in South Carolina, which killed at least nine people, the other 1-in-1,000-year rain events include the Tennessee floods in May 2010, the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and New England drenching during Hurricane Irene in 2011, the Colorado floods in 2013, the deluge in Baltimore in August 2014, and the flooding earlier this year in Nebraska, according to Bowen.

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

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