Signs of the Times (10/12/15)

Arizona Abortions Declining

The Arizona Department of Health Services has issued its annual abortion report for 2014 regarding abortion in Arizona which shows a decrease of 501 fewer abortions in 2014 as compared to 2013, a decrease of 3.7%. Arizona has seen a total decrease of 1,500 abortions annually or a reduction of 10.7%. Cathi Herrod, who heads up the Center for Arizona Policy, said, “The statistics prove this fact: when pro-life people register to vote, vote their values, elect a pro-life legislature and governor, then the lives of preborn children can be saved and their mothers spared the agony of abortion. While we rejoice in the news of continued reductions, we also grieve that the numbers remain way too high.”

  • CAP is the leading voice in Arizona for incorporating Christian values within state government

Public School Choirs Banned from Singing in Area Christmas Show

Several public schools in Portland, Oregon have banned choirs from performing in an annual Christmas festival after complaints were filed by an atheist group. The Blaze reports that the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter to Lane Middle School and Grant, Wilson, Lincoln, and Cleveland High Schools, complaining that it was unconstitutional for public schools to promote Christian events. Choirs made up of students from area schools always perform in the Christmas Festival of Lights, which calls itself “the largest Christmas choral festival in the world” and is put on by the Grotto, a Catholic shrine. The FFRF’s co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor stated, “Just because it’s a tradition doesn’t mean it’s legal.” The school district complied with the FFRF’s demands to ban the choirs, fearing legal action.

  • The war on Christmas continues and we are losing

Survey Finds Most Americans Believe in a Creator

LifeWay Research’s finding that most Americans believe there is a creator who designed the universe and defines human morality is not surprising. After all, 3 in 4 U.S. adults identify with a religious denomination. The surprise is that so many people who don’t identify with a religion — so-called nones — agree. The survey of 1,000 U.S. adults found that most Americans — 72 percent overall and 46 percent of nones — agree that: “Since the universe has organization, I think there is a creator who designed it.” This view is most strongly held by evangelicals and by older adults. And most Americans — 79 percent overall, and 43 percent of nones — say they agree that “The fact that we exist means someone created us.”

  • The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. (Psalm 19:1-4)

U.S. Officials Say Iran Nuclear Deal Violates Federal Law

Some senior U.S. officials involved in the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal have privately concluded that a key sanctions relief provision – a concession to Iran that will open the doors to tens of billions of dollars in U.S.-backed commerce with the Islamic regime – conflicts with existing federal statutes and cannot be implemented without violating those laws, Fox News reported. The deal stipulates that foreign subsidiaries of U.S. parent companies can, under certain conditions, be allowed to do business with Iran. The problem is that the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act (ITRA), signed into law by President Obama in August 2012, was explicit in closing the so-called “foreign sub” loophole. Additional executive orders and statutes signed by President Obama, such as the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, have reaffirmed that all prior federal statutes relating to sanctions on Iran shall remain in full effect.

  • As more details emerge, this seriously flawed deal needs to be trashed. Besides, Iran has no intention of complying anyway.

China Left Out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership

The largest regional trade agreement in history involves the United States and 11 countries in the Asia Pacific and the Americas, which collectively represent about 40% of world GDP and around a quarter of global exports. More than five years in the making, the TPP, as it is commonly referred to, was finalized on Monday, but it still needs the approval of lawmakers in member countries, including the U.S. Congress. While a lot of the details of the deal are still secret, the TPP is clearly more than just a free trade agreement. In addition to slashing or eliminating 98% of tariffs on thousands of goods including dairy, beef, sugar, cars, tractors and chemicals, it also establishes common rules and regulations for trade and investment across member countries as well as external tribunals to sort out disputes. TPP member states will include the United States, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru – but not China. Excluding China has been widely interpreted as an attempt by the United States to curtail Beijing’s growing political and economic might in the Asia Pacific region, and some experts have described it as a “terrible mistake.” But China already has free trade agreements with more than half of the TPP countries.

  • Of more significance, the TPP is yet another step toward global governance as prophesied in Revelation 13

U.S. Cybersecurity Efforts Stalled after Huge Data Breach

Nearly three months after a fevered Obama administration attempt to bolster security against cyber-hackers who tapped into the private information of some 25 million federal employees, cybersecurity experts say there is still no comprehensive plan to protect the sprawl of 10,000 government and contractor computer systems, Fox News reported Sunday. Among the noteworthy gaps: a cybersecurity “strategy and implementation plan,” – which the White House said last July would be the work of “a team of over 100 experts from across the government and private industry – remains elusive. New comprehensive software defenses that the administration intends as a major security bulwark also appears to be a work in progress with no end point in sight. Meanwhile, cybersecurity experts say that government agencies apparently still don’t perform routine security tasks that are commonplace in the private sector. In addition, there is little evidence that the Obama administration is holding top agency officials accountable for such laxness, and literally hundreds of recommendations to government agencies on how to enhance security remain unaddressed.

  • Cyberwarfare is increasingly underway and the U.S. government is woefully unprepared

Federal Court Rules against Obama & EPA

On Friday, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit based in Cincinnati issued a nationwide stay blocking the Obama administration’s highly controversial Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency. State legislators from across the country believe the rule violates the Tenth Amendment and sets a dangerous precedent for federal intrusion. In total, more than 30 states have sought legal action against the rule. “It’s important to realize that this rule would give the federal government unprecedented powers over property owners, farmers and businesses. Even a puddle of water in your driveway could be subject to federal investigation. In addition, this rule presents a massive negative impact to our states’ economy and sovereignty,” said Tennessee State Representative Sheila Butt. “I’m thankful for the Court’s ruling, but the fight isn’t over just yet.”

  • Obama and the liberal left purposely seek greater ‘federal intrusion’ and socialistic control

EPA Spends Millions on Military-Style Weapons

The Environmental Protection Agency has spent millions of dollars over the last decade on military-style weapons to arm its 200 “special agents” to fight environmental crime, reports minutemennews.com. Among the weapons purchased are guns, body armor, camouflage equipment, unmanned aircraft, amphibious assault ships, radar and night-vision gear and other military-style weaponry and surveillance activities, according to a new report by the watchdog group Open the Books. “Our report discovered that when the EPA comes knocking they are armed with a thousand lawyers, arrest/criminal data, credit, business and property histories, plus a ‘Special Agent’ with the latest in weaponry and technology,” said Adam Andrzejewski, founder of Open the Books and author of the report.

  • All levels of the government have armed themselves in order to jam the U.N.’s ‘sustainability’ agenda down our throats

No HHS Oversight of Planned Parenthood

In the past 8 years, the Department of Health and Human Services has doled out billions of our taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood with “ZERO oversight,” reports Liberty Counsel. In their most recent annual report, Planned Parenthood (PPH) revealed an annual revenue of $1.3 billion. Further, they reported holding $1.4 billion in assets during 2013-2014. They reportedly received over $500 million of taxpayer dollars – as funded by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Unbelievably, as The Stream uncovered through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, HHS has “conducted zero oversight since 2007,” while PPH labels their trafficking of aborted babies’ body parts as “research.” Under the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) should be performing audits on Planned Parenthood. Specifically, according to HHS’s own documents, ‘Section 498A of the Public Health Service Act [42 USC 289g-1] requires the annual submission to Congress of a report describing research involving therapeutic transplantation of human fetal tissue supported or conducted by the NIH. Despite the terms of Section 498A of the Public Health Service Act, the audits are apparently not taking place.

Millennials More Narcissistic

Evangelist Greg Laurie says that we are living in a culture that is “completely self-absorbed” just as 2Timothy 3:1-2 prophesies: But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves. He notes that: the Incidence of Narcissistic Personality Disorder is nearly three times as high for people in their twenties as for the generation that’s now 65 or older; 58% more college students scored higher on a narcissism scale in 2009 than in 1982; 40% of Millennials believe they should be promoted every two years, regardless of performance. So, what is the antidote to selfishness? It is selflessness: Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4)

  • Another indicator that perilous times are indeed coming as the end-times roll forward toward the Tribulation

Economic News

The House overwhelmingly approved a bill Friday that would lift the 40-year-old ban on exporting U.S. crude oil, a restriction that critics say hurts job creation and U.S. national security. The bill heads next to the Senate. However, the White House has threatened to veto the bill should it make its way to the president’s desk, calling it unnecessary. The export ban was signed into law by President Gerald Ford in 1975 in response to the oil embargo by Arab OPEC nations against the U.S. for its support of Israel in the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. But repeal supporters say the policy is now outdated — and failing to repeal it would cost jobs.

The Dow extended its rebound rally from its recent correction lows to six sessions on Friday as stocks keep heading higher following the release of minutes of the Federal Reserve’s meeting last month that lowered investor expectations for an interest rate hike this year. Stocks also rallied overseas, putting global shares on track for their best week since 2011, according to Reuters.

World oil prices have charged higher this week, breaking back above $50 a barrel for the first time since July. As recently as last month some analysts were warning of a risk that prices would collapse to $20 a barrel. But tensions in the Middle East, the biggest oil producing region, have pushed prices up. Investors are worried more violence in the region could impact production and transport. In addition, U.S. crude oil production declined by 120,000 barrels per day in September compared with August due to the low prices.

Middle East

Five Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli troops Friday along the heavily guarded frontier near the Gaza border. Four Palestinians were killed when they threw rocks and burning tires at Israeli soldiers along the border. One of those killed as a 15-year-old teenager. At least 30 Palestinians were wounded in the clashes. Earlier, the Israeli military said about 200 Palestinians in Gaza advanced toward soldiers on the border and threw rocks and rolled burning tires at troops stationed there. It said that forces opened fire at the main instigators to stop their advance. The clashes Friday are the latest violence threatening to escalate tensions throughout the country as Israel struggles to control the spiraling situation. A rash of Palestinian attacks aimed at Israeli civilians and soldiers this week have been mostly carried out by young Palestinians stabbing people on the streets seemingly at random — making it difficult for authorities to predict or prevent them. A Palestinian teenager stabbed two Israelis in Jerusalem Saturday before being shot dead by police forces.

Police officials announced Sunday evening that over 1,000 additional Border Police officers are being deployed to Jerusalem amidst a surge in terrorist attacks using crude weapons such as knives, rocks and gasoline bombs which have killed several people over the last week and wounded many more, including 70 police officers. On Monday morning, police thwarted yet another attempted stabbing attack near the Lion’s Gate to the Old City, shooting and killing the terrorist as he attempted to stab an officer. The latest incident came following a weekend which saw riots break out in several Palestinian cities in the West Bank, along the border fence with the Gaza Strip and in predominantly Arab cities in Israel, although security forces reported that the disturbances are dwindling in size and intensity amidst the massive police crackdown

An Israeli airstrike on a home in Gaza killed a pregnant Palestinian woman and her 2-year-old child Sunday, an official in Gaza said. He said four other people were wounded, including Hassan’s husband and son. In the West Bank, a Palestinian woman was critically injured after a bomb detonated in her car after she left the vehicle, police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said. He said a police officer was slightly injured in the attack. It was the first use of explosives in the current round of violence, which has mainly been confined to stabbings and shootings. Israel’s military said it carried out airstrikes in Gaza targeting Hamas weapons manufacturing facilities in response to renewed rocket fire toward Israel.

Islamic State

The Islamic State registered significant gains on Friday in the area of northwestern Syria that Russian warplanes have been bombing, taking six villages near Aleppo and threatening to cut off an important route north to the Turkish border. The Kremlin has said its military had entered Syria to fight the Islamic State, but the Russian forces have concentrated much of their firepower on insurgent groups aligned against President Bashar al-Assad, including the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, and relatively secular groups like the Free Syrian Army. Rival insurgents say that the Islamic State, also called ISIS or Daesh, is taking advantage. The Iraqi Air Force bombed the convoy of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Iraq’s western Anbar province, the Iraqi military said Sunday. The condition and location of al-Baghdadi were not known, the military said.

The Pentagon will end its faltering program to train a moderate Syrian rebel force to battle the Islamic State, shifting instead to a plan to support already existing tribal and other forces, a senior U.S. defense official told USA TODAY on Friday. The Pentagon’s $500 million training plan has fallen far short of its initial goal of training 5,400 rebels a year. Instead, only a handful of U.S. military-trained rebels made it into Syria since the program got underway this year. The first Pentagon trained team to make it into Syria this summer came under attack by an al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria and dispersed. The second team handed over some U.S.-supplied arms and equipment to the same terror group. Obama attributed the difficulties to getting the rebels to focus on fighting the Islamic State instead of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Syria

Four Russian cruise missiles launched from the Caspian Sea fell short of their Syrian targets and landed in a rural part of Iran, two U.S. military officials said Thursday, amid growing international concern about Russia’s actions in the region. The errant strikes were part of a volley of 26 long-range cruise missiles that Russia fired Wednesday. The flight path for the Kalibr cruise missiles, which had not previously been used in combat conditions, took them over Iran and Iraq. Russia’s growing military activity in the region has raised worries that a mishap could trigger a wider war as Russian ships, aircraft and troops intensify operations in what the U.S. says is a bid to prop up longtime ally Syrian President Bashar Assad rather than combat the Islamic State.

Iran

Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency is reporting the country has successfully test fired a new guided long-range ballistic surface-to-surface missile. The Sunday report did not elaborate on the range of the missile or the specifics of the test firing. It said the new missile is precision guided and can be controlled until the moment of impact. The Islamic Republic already claims to have surface-to-surface missiles with a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles) that can hit Israel and U.S. military bases in the region.

Turkey

A pair of bomb blasts exploded Saturday as thousands gathered for a peace rally in the Turkish capital of Ankara, leaving at least 95 dead and another 246 injured. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, which authorities were investigating as possible suicide bombings. The blasts were the deadliest attacks in the nation in years. Turkey is embroiled in struggles both with the Islamic State in bordering Syria and with Kurdish separatists. Some 14,000 people were believed to be in the area at the time. Saturday’s rally, organized near Ankara’s train station by the country’s public sector workers’ trade union, was calling for an end to the renewed violence between Kurdish rebels and Turkish security forces. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Saturday said Kurdish rebels and Islamic State militants were most likely to be responsible.

Environment

Strange colors and smells seeped out of the faucets of Flint, Michigan, residents for more than a year, but officials assured them everything was fine. In recent weeks, it’s been revealed that residents had a right to be concerned; the water has been contaminated and has increased lead levels in the blood of some of the city’s children. After switching to a temporary water supply in 2014, Flint officials seemed to have soothed residents. They sent out a notice in July, stating, “This is not an emergency. If a situation arises where the water is no longer safe to drink, you will be notified within 24 hours.” Despite their reassurances, alarm spiked again when testing in recent weeks revealed increased levels of lead in the blood of some of Flint’s children. There was an increase from 2.5 percent of lead found in the children tested to 6.3 percent.

Earthquakes

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake shook parts of Oklahoma and Kansas early Saturday morning. The quake, centered about 21 miles north of Enid, in north-central Oklahoma at 4:20 a.m. CDT, was felt as far away as parts of southern Oklahoma and northern Kansas. No reports of damage have been received. Some shaking was felt in Wichita, Oklahoma City and Tulsa. A second earthquake, a magnitude 4.5, was also observed about 3 miles west-northwest of Cushing, Oklahoma early Saturday evening. This earthquake was likewise centered in north-central Oklahoma, at 5:03 p.m. CDT, but was somewhat displaced to the southeast of the earlier quake.

Weather

Rain was the last thing residents want to see in the forecast in South Carolina, a state still coping with the consequences of unprecedented rainfall over the past week. Rain is the last thing residents want to see in the forecast in South Carolina, a state still coping with the consequences of unprecedented rainfall over the past week. While this current round of rain is not as prolific as what occurred this past week, some locally heavy rain fell in some parts of South Carolina over the weekend with rain rates up to 1 inch in 15 minutes. Street flooding was reported in the city at Whaley and Main, as rain quickly ran off saturated ground. Nearby Rocky Branch Creek rose over 9 feet in just 75 minutes into moderate flood stage.

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