Signs of the Times (10/27/15)

Canada Mosque Shows Children How to Behead

An Ontario mosque is coming under fire for using young Muslim children to conduct mock beheadings in a school play. Video footage of the Islamic Jaffari Center in Thornhill, Ontario, shows children as young as 4 years old watching and learning to conduct beheadings in the play. The video was featured on the Canada’s Sun News Network television program, “Byline with Brian Lilley.” A young boy can be seen sitting on the floor as another boy approaches him from behind with a machete. At the end of the play, the boy playing the part of the executioner announces, “Here are the heads.”

Oprah’s ‘Belief’ Leads Millions into Religious Deception

For the past several weeks, Oprah Winfrey has been sharing her heart about how the Bible has impacted her life and how God gives her great joy. “The only problem is, we aren’t really sure which god she is glorifying but she’s leaving Jesus out of the equation (or at least putting other gods on the same pedestal next to Him),” notes Charisma News. “Oprah’s sudden river of religious talk is not based on some newfound appreciation for Christianity. It’s marketing spin for her new series, Belief, which the media pioneer describes as a ‘groundbreaking’ television event exploring humanity’s ongoing search to connect with something greater than ourselves.” Oprah has insisted she is a Christian, but doesn’t mention Jesus. And a well-circulated YouTube video shows her arguing vehemently that Jesus is not the only way to the Father.

Vatican Summit Opens Door for Divorced, But Not Gays

A momentous and divided gathering of global bishops ended Saturday by endorsing measures that could lead to greater participation of divorced and remarried Catholics in the church, while the 270 churchmen declined to take up the even more controversial issue of whether to be more welcoming of gays. The final document was an obvious compromise intended to gain support from both reformers and hardliners and achieve as much consensus as possible. The three-week meeting of churchmen from all five continents, called a synod, revealed serious theological, cultural and ideological fissures in the worldwide hierarchy. Some cardinals and bishops blasted gay rights in harsh terms, as others said any softening of the church’s practices on allowing remarried Catholics to take communion would be tantamount to heresy. The often-vague language of the concluding report also left the door open for Francis to take further action to provide greater pastoral flexibility to local bishops and priests, as church leaders expect him to do. Pope Francis appeared to lecture church elders at the closing of a landmark summit on the family here, suggesting they should not be quick to exclude a broad array of people deserving of God’s grace, in a sermon at Sunday’s Mass.

FBI Director Admits It Can’t Vet All Syrian Refugees for Terrorism Ties

During congressional hearings on the Syrian refugees, FBI Director Jim Comey admitted that there was just no way for our government to vet all of the refugees who would be moving into our nation. “The sad fact is that we may well be opening our doors wide for the very terrorists we are fighting in the Middle East,” notes Liberty Alliance. “If someone has never made a ripple in the pond in Syria in a way that would get their identity or their interest reflected in our database, we can query our database until the cows come home, but there will be nothing show up because we have no record of them,” FBI Director Comey said.

  • The U.S. is inviting and resettling thousands of potential Islamic terrorists into our country every month

Obama Administration Targeting Conservative Christian Groups for Domestic Extremism

The Obama administration has ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) to expand their investigative efforts to include “domestic extremism.” Among the DOJ’s sources for rooting out these “extremist” organizations is the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC), “hate group” list. John Carlin, the assistant attorney general for national security, announced Wednesday that the Justice Department is creating the new position of domestic terrorism counsel to combat the “real and present threat” of domestic extremism. The SPLC says it places groups — including conservative, Christian groups — on its “Hate List” based on their beliefs, not their propensity for violence. “Homegrown violent extremists can be motivated by any viewpoint on the full spectrum of hate — anti-government views, racism, bigotry, anarchy and other despicable beliefs,” Carlin told a gathering at George Washington University. “By falsely and recklessly labeling many mainstream Christian ministries as hate groups, the SPLC is directly responsible for fanning the flames of violence against Christian organizations,” notes Liberty Counsel.

  • The stage is being set for a government crackdown on conservative Christian groups who espouse sound Biblical principles

Obama Administration Places Gag Orders on National Weather Service & NOAA

In recent weeks Washington has placed “gag orders” on the following agency employees, “The National Weather Service”, the “National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration”, and the “US Department of Commerce,” reports RedFlag News. Bill Hopkins, the executive president for the National Weather Service Employees Organization said, ““As a taxpayer, I find it highly disturbing that a government agency continues to push gag orders to hide how they operate. This is the work of the American government, owned by the American public, and should be open to the American public.” Jeff Ruch, the executive director “PEER” (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility) said this about the “gag orders”. “The National Weather Service is about the last place where national security-style secrecy rules need to be enforced,” Ruch noted that the broad scope of the gag orders put much of what goes on inside the agency under wraps. “Everyone is free to talk about the weather except for the people working inside the National Weather Service. Go figure.” An unidentified NOAA scientist that said “we all know it is going on (climate engineering) but we are afraid to speak out, we have no first amendment protection”.

  • Global warming, now called climate change, appears to be engineered or enhanced as a means of enforcing stricter government control and ushering in the one-world government of Revelation 13.

‘Nuclear Fire’ Erupts at Radioactive Facility near Las Vegas

Government officials are still looking into what may have caused a low-level radiological storage facility approximately 100 miles outside Las Vegas to go up in flames, reports CBS Las Vegas. “We didn’t even hear about it when it happened, according to Cindy Craig, a resident. “We weren’t even get told about it until the next day.” In a 40-second cellphone video, the explosion is seen shooting up out of the ground causing massive plumes of smoke. The explosion caused the facility to go up in flames. State officials said the fire started in one of 22 covered trenches used to store low-level radioactive material. The EPA said an unknown amount of low-level radioactive waste that burned had been deposited before 1992, according to the Associated Press. The U,S. Geological Survey previously found high concentrations of radionuclides underground, the Nuclear Resource and Information Service said.

  • The storage of nuclear material represents an ongoing radiological threat and a terrorist target

Obama Proposes Plan to Curb Excessive Testing

President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan are expected to meet Monday with teachers and school officials to outline their plan to limit the amount of time students spend taking standardized tests. The White House has outlined a series of steps to help educators end assessment that is burdensome or not benefiting students or teachers. Obama recommended limiting standardized exams to no more than 2% of a student’s instructional time in the classroom. The White House said Saturday the proliferation of testing in the United States — a problem the administration acknowledged it has played a role in — has taken away too much valuable time that could be better spent on learning, teaching and fostering creativity in schools.

No Criminal Charges for Lerner, Others in IRS Scandal

The Justice Department announced Friday afternoon that it will not bring criminal charges against Lois Lerner or any other IRS official involved in the targeting of Tea Party groups, in a decision Republicans said amounted to a “free pass.” In a letter to leaders of the House Judiciary Committee, the department said the investigation into the controversy will be closed — and while they found “mismanagement, poor judgment and institutional inertia,” they found “no evidence that would support a criminal prosecution.” Republicans, who themselves have investigated the IRS scandal for years, fumed over Friday’s DOJ decision. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said the move marks a “low point of accountability” for the Obama administration. “Giving Lois Lerner a free pass only reinforces the idea that government officials are above the law and that there is no consequence for wrongdoing,” Issa said in a statement.

Feds Raid Drug ‘Super Tunnel’ on U.S.-Mexico Border

Smugglers on the U.S.-Mexico border have become so sophisticated in moving drugs that one “super tunnel” raided this week featured a railway. The tunnel stretched the length of eight football fields, from a Tijuana warehouse to a San Diego warehouse, and had a rail system, lighting, electricity, and metal beams to prevent a cave-in. Authorities confiscated at least 12 tons of marijuana with a street value of $6 million and arrested 22 people in San Diego and Tijuana in connection with the one of the largest tunnels uncovered in recent years. “We see a super tunnel open for business once every year or so,” U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy of Southern California said in a statement. “Just when traffickers think they’re ready to move, we put them out of business.”

Firearms Records Backlogged at National Tracing Center

Millions of firearm purchase records, potentially critical to tracing guns used in crimes, languish in scores of cardboard boxes and shipping containers awaiting processing at the government’s National Tracing Center in Martinsville, West Virginia. Officials estimate that 1.6 million paper documents and other records arrive every month from defunct firearm dealers who are required to ship their business records, some barely discernible, to this Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives facility for eventual inclusion in a digital repository. Up to 50 times a day, document examiners comb through everything from 1970s-era microfilm to hand-written cards in an effort to satisfy sometimes urgent pleas for assistance from law enforcement agencies from across the country, ATF information specialist Neil Troppman said. The dysfunctional document management system exists even as ATF examiners are faced with a steadily increasing demand for tracing guns used in crimes — 364,441 requests last year, reports USA Today.

Hot Dogs, Bacon, Processed Meats Linked to Cancer

Eating hot dogs, ham and other processed meat can cause colorectal cancer and eating red meat probably can cause cancer, the World Health Organization’s cancer agency reported Monday. Dr. Kurt Straif, with the International Agency for Cancer Research, said the risk of developing colorectal cancer from eating processed meat remains small but rises with the amount consumed. “In view of the large number of people who consume processed meat, the global impact on cancer incidence is of public health importance,” Straif said. The IARC report labeled processed meat a carcinogen — cigarettes are similarly labeled. Processed meat was defined as meat transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking “or other processes to enhance flavor or improve preservation.” The North American Meat Institute scoffed at the report, saying it ignored “numerous” studies showing no link between meat and cancer.

Congress and White House Reach Tentative Budget Deal

After five years of bitter clashes, Republican congressional leaders and President Obama on Monday night appeared to settle their last budget fight by reaching a tentative deal that would modestly increase spending over the next two years, cut some social programs, and raise the federal borrowing limit. The accord, which must be approved by the House and the Senate, would avert a potentially cataclysmic default on the government’s debt and dispenses with perhaps the most divisive issue in the capital just before Speaker John A. Boehner is expected to turn over his gavel to Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin.

In an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Monday October 19, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned the U.S. Treasury will run out of money by Tuesday November 3, less than two weeks from now, unless the debt ceiling is raised. “Only Congress can act to raise the debt limit. I will have used all the tools that I have as of November 3rd, and then we’re operating on cash,” Lew said, warning that “every time we hit this that sometime there could be an accident, and that would be terrible.”

  • What kind of ‘accident’ Lew was referencing he left undefined

Economic News

The Conference Board, a private research group, said Tuesday its index of consumer confidence fell to 97.6 in October from a revised 102.6 in September. “Despite the decline, consumers still rate current conditions favorably, but they do not anticipate the economy strengthening much in the near-term,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the board.

Orders for long-lasting manufactured goods fell in September, declining for a second straight month. Orders for durable goods dropped 1.2% in September, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. That follows a revised 3% drop in August, an even bigger downturn than first reported. Durable goods orders have been down in four of the past six months, a sign of the problems facing manufacturers as they struggle with economic weakness in key export markets like China. A stronger dollar has also been a drag, making American products less competitive overseas.

A powerful concoction of market forces have teamed up to put a lid on corporate profit growth. Among these factors are China’s slowdown, the resurgent U.S. dollar, cheap oil, and even rising minimum wages. Third-quarter S&P 500 profits are projected to decline nearly 4%, according to FactSet. That would mark the first back-to-back quarters of shrinking profits since 2009. This isn’t expected to be a blip either. Wall Street analysts aren’t expecting earnings and revenue growth to return until the first quarter of 2016.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iran count on oil exports. But oil in the current $40 to $50 range is already below the break-even point for many Middle Eastern nations. Yet OPEC still is flooding the market with oil in order to destroy the fracking boom in the U.S. The question is, at what point does it become too expensive for OPEC to continue down this path? In the meantime, U.S. oil production is rapidly declining as fracking wells are shut down and investment in new wells is drying up.

Middle East

Israel’s Prime Minister has agreed to 24-hour video surveillance at a disputed Jerusalem holy site — a move that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said could be “a game-changer” to reduce regional bloodshed. Tensions have been brewing for weeks in and around Israel and Palestinian territories, erupting into deadly violence. And much of that has centered on a site in Jerusalem that’s sacred to two religions as the Temple Mount to Jews and as al-Aqsa Mosque complex, or Noble Sanctuary, to Muslims. The round-the-clock observation “will provide comprehensive visibility and transparency” and discourage “anybody from disturbing the sanctity of this holy site,” Kerry said. Muslim religious officials in Jerusalem said Monday that Israeli police have blocked them from installing security cameras at the city’s most sensitive religious site, despite a new agreement to place the surveillance equipment there.

Israeli forces shot a knife-wielding Palestinian dead Saturday after he ran toward a crossing between Israel and the West Bank and tried to stab security personnel at the site, the Israeli military said. The incident is the first time an official West Bank crossing was targeted in the latest round of violence that began in mid-September. In the past five weeks, 10 Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks, mostly stabbings, while 49 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, including 28 said by Israel to be attackers and the rest in clashes.

Islamic State

The Obama administration is weighing moving U.S. troops closer to the front lines in Iraq and Syria while preparing to “intensify” the air campaign against the Islamic State, officials said Tuesday. Defense Secretary Ash Carter testified on Capitol Hill Tuesday that the military plans a “higher and heavier rate of strikes” against ISIS targets. The Washington Post reported that national security advisers are proposing putting a limited number of Special Operations forces in Syria, and U.S. advisers closer to the fight in Iraq.

The Islamic State executed three detainees in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra by strapping them to pillars and then blowing them up along with the antiquities, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. “This execution is the first of its kind by the Islamic State, the organization (that) in recent months has invented new ways of execution,” the observatory said in a statement late Monday. The London-based group said it obtained its information from local sources. The report came just days after the observatory released footage Saturday that appeared to show Islamic State militants executing a teenage Syrian soldier by running him over with a tank. The Islamic State has consistently used the Internet and social media to publicize its brutality.

  • The evil is so blatant and rampant in the Islamic State that there is no question their ‘god’ is Satan

Syria

Russia has sent a few dozen special-operations troops to Syria in recent weeks, Russian and Western officials say, redeploying the elite units from Ukraine as the Kremlin shifts its focus to supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Russia in late September launched a campaign of airstrikes in support of Mr. Assad’s government, and President Vladimir Putin has said Russian troops wouldn’t play a role in ground combat. But Russian military experts and officials say small numbers of special-forces units—whose missions are rarely acknowledged publicly—are also on the ground in Syria.

Airstrikes believed to have been carried out by Russian warplanes in western Syria are reported to have killed dozens of civilians, Human Rights Watch says, suggesting that the bombings appear to be war crimes. The aerial attacks took place in the northern part of Homs on October 15 as Russian and Syrian planes were supporting a ground offensive by the Syrian military and its allies against rebel groups, the rights group said in a statement Sunday. Russian forces have faced a series of allegations of striking civilian areas since they began bombing parts of Syria last month in an effort to bolster the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a close ally of Moscow. The Syrian American Medical Society has accused Russian warplanes of repeatedly targeting hospitals.

Yemen

A second Doctors without Borders medical facility was hit by an airstrike in less than a month, the organization said Tuesday. The group tweeted that the facility, in Saada, northern Yemen, was hit by several airstrikes on Monday night while patients and staff were in the building. Yemen’s state news agency Saba reported that a number of patients were injured. A Saudi-led coalition started launching airstrikes against the Houthis in March. The Saba new agency, which is run by the rebels, said it was the only hospital in the area, a Houthi stronghold.

Earthquakes

A 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck northeast Afghanistan at 1:39 p.m. local time Monday afternoon (5:09 a.m. EDT). The earthquake was centered about 159 miles north-northeast of the Afghan capital of Kabul. Officials worked Tuesday to reach the hardest-hit remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, one day after the major earthquake left at least 311 people dead. Widespread shaking was felt across Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, including Kabul, Islamabad and New Delhi, The Associated Press reported. Buildings swayed back and forth in Islamabad, sending people streaming out of buildings and into the streets in panic. Afghani and Pakistani officials said 237 of those deaths occurred in Pakistan, while 74 have been confirmed dead in Afghanistan, including 12 girls who were crushed in a stampede as they fled their collapsing school.

Wildfires

Indonesia is in the grips of a double-headed climate and public health crisis as fires rage across the country. On Monday, the fires reached such a fever pitch that Indonesian Prime Minister Joko Widodo cut a trip to the U.S. short to return home and deal with the inferno that’s turning air toxic and putting more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than the U.S. on a daily basis. Nearly 116,000 fires have been documented and air quality in Indonesia and its neighboring countries has suffered greatly. The fires are an annual occurrence, but this year is already the second-most prolific burn year on record due to dry conditions driven by this year’s strong El Niño.

Wildfires have burned 15 million acres in Canada and Alaska so far this year, in what’s likely to become the second-most extreme fire season of the past decade for North America’s boreal region. But the worst damage could still be around the corner because the area contains organic material that is hundreds if not thousands of years old. The burning of that material releases into the atmosphere carbon into the atmosphere that was once stored in frozen soil, or permafrost. Excessive amounts of carbon released into the atmosphere increase the likelihood of global temperature rise. “Once fires in this region burn deeply, all these other things start to happen, affecting plants, animals and local people,” said Michelle Mack, a researcher and biological sciences professor at Northern Arizona University, which is using a NASA-funded grant to measure severe fire impacts in North America. Alaska is already warming twice as fast as the rest of the nation, with rapidly melting sea ice and thawing permafrost.

Weather

Up to 20 inches of rain have fallen over parts of Texas over the last few days, breaking some local rain records. Heavy flooding in north and central Texas caused major headaches across the state Saturday morning, as floodwaters derailed a Union Pacific train, inundated roads and stranded drivers. Swift water rescue teams were deployed early Saturday to recover two Union Pacific employees from a train that was partially submerged north of Corsicana, Texas. Several vehicles were stalled and traffic backed up for 12 miles after Interstate 45 flooded in North Texas. Northbound I-35 in central Texas was shut down by officials late Friday morning. Law enforcement agencies in Waco received reports of people trapped inside of vehicles stranded in high water. In West Texas, runoff washed away a mobile home. No one was home. Flood waters swallowed up an ambulance in Odessa and prompted at least 30 swift-water rescues in the area. The fast-moving rain storm swamped low-lying streets in Dallas, forcing some drivers to wade through several feet of water.

The City of Houston activated the City’s Emergency Operations Center Saturday as flooding began to hit the area due to a slow-moving storm system rolling over the city. The National Weather Service reported Saturday evening that roads were becoming submerged in the city at the rate of 2-3 inches per hour. The Houston EOC reported high water and disabled vehicles in at least a dozen locations around the city. Louisiana is bracing for more heavy precipitation Monday as the storm that dumped more than a foot of rain on Texas over the weekend moves east. A flash flood watch was issued for parts of New Orleans and Baton Rouge through Monday afternoon, and forecasts say some areas around New Orleans could get up to 8 inches of rain. Crews southeast of New Orleans were rushing Tuesday to plug a hole in a breached levee after heavy rains from the remnants of Hurricane Patricia pounded the area. Parts of the Gulf Coast are also dealing with strong winds and huge waves.

A day after record-breaking Hurricane Patricia made landfall in Mexico, early reports revealed thousands of homes had been damaged but no casualties in the state of Jalisco, where thousands of residents had hunkered down in shelters during the historic storm. Authorities cautioned that the remnants of the hurricane could still cause deadly flooding and mudslides. Hurricane Patricia made landfall Friday evening around 6:15 p.m. near Cuixmala, Mexico, in the state of Jalisco, with maximum sustained winds of 165 miles per hour. Multiple homes were severely damaged and banana and papaya crops destroyed in Michoacan state. The Colima-Guadalajara freeway was closed, as well as the highway between Manzanillo and Guadalajara. Mountains, geography and planning led to surprisingly little damage and few deaths when Hurricane Patricia, the strongest storm on record in the Western Hemisphere, slammed ashore with 165-mph winds, experts say. But ask local residents and they say prayer played a role. “God takes care of us,” said Yolanda Garcia Casillas, 49, who rode out the storm in this seaside community 20 miles south from where the storm made landfall.

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