Signs of the Times (10/30/15)

New Planned Parenthood Video Reveals Partial-Birth Abortions

A new undercover video has just been released that explicitly demonstrates how Planned Parenthood is conducting illegal partial-birth abortions. A partial-birth abortion is where most of the baby is delivered — fully alive — and then its spinal cord is cut before the rest of the baby’s body is pulled out. This act is truly horrific, and it has been under a federal ban for more than ten years, reports the Media Research Center. This latest video catches the nation’s biggest abortion business selling the intact heads of aborted babies for research. “Our tax dollars are paying for an organization involved in such gruesome and inhumane activities,” MRC notes. And the mainstream media continues to ignore or even quash this story.

Obama Recommends that Schools Celebrate “Undocumented Immigrant Awareness Day”

Obama’s Department of Education has recommended that schools dedicate a week to recognizing illegal aliens, including an “undocumented immigrant awareness day,” according to the American Thinker. The White House released a document Tuesday that outlined how schools could make undocumented students feel more welcome. These suggestions include “Undocumented Week” and “an undocumented immigrant awareness day.” The resource guide was more than 50 pages long and chock full of tips and ideas to help undocumented youth achieve educational and economic success — regardless of actual or perceived immigration status.

Muslim Gangs Raping & Pillaging in Germany

German correspondent Alexander Benesch wrote concerning Muslim refugee camps in Germany that there is “a lack of security for women and children, leading to rape, molestation and (reportedly but not verified) forced prostitution.” He also reports that the German government is covering up these atrocities. ““Mainstream media coverage of this is scarce, because it embarrasses the government.” In addition, Islamic gangs in Germany have broken into schools and churches and plundered collection boxes, crosses and other valuable and sacred objects used in church services, reports WorldNetDaily.com

Israeli and Jewish Leaders at Vatican on Nostra Aetate Anniversary

Jewish leaders from Israel and several prominent Diaspora communities met with Pope Francis in Rome on the 50th anniversary of the Nostra Aetate, aka Second Vatican Council, on Wednesday, with Francis issuing a statement condemning anti-Semitism and welcoming closer ties between Jewish communities and the Catholic Church. “Yes to the rediscovery of the Jewish roots of Christianity. No to anti-Semitism,” the pope told a public appearance at St. Peter’s Square. The document, issued in 1965, included several changes to centuries of official Vatican policy, notably including the absolution of Jewish collective guilt for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It was followed by warming relations between the Catholic Church and Israel, including visits by several Popes and the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1993.

Senate Approves Two-Year Budget Deal

The Senate passed a two-year budget deal early Friday that would prevent the U.S. government from defaulting on its debts next week and help avert a potential government shutdown in December. Senators voted 64-35 to approve the legislation shortly after 3 a.m. The House approved the budget agreement Wednesday despite opposition from a majority of Republicans. President Obama is expected to sign it into law. The legislation would raise the debt limit through March 2017, allowing the government to continue to borrow money to pay its bills. The Treasury Department had warned that the government would default on its debts unless the limit is raised by Tuesday. The deal also lifts budget caps to boost spending for military and domestic programs by a total of $80 billion over two years. That reduces the possibility of a government shutdown in December, when current funding for federal agencies expires. Additionally, it would protect senior citizens from an expected spike in Medicare premiums next year.

Murder Rate Cut in Half despite Increase in Guns

A Pew Research Center report has found that the murder rate in the U.S. has been cut in half over the past two decades from 7 per 100,000 to 3.6 per 100,000, in spite of widespread proliferation of guns. The gun death rate has also dropped over the same time period, though not as drastically. In 1993, it was about 15.2 per 100,000. Twenty years later in 2013, it was down to 10.6. Most Americans are unaware that gun crime is markedly lower. The Pew survey (March 14-17) found that 56% of Americans believe the number of crimes involving a gun is higher than it was 20 years ago; only 12% say it is lower and 26% say it stayed the same. (An additional 6% did not know or did not answer.)

  • Once again we can thank the mainstream media for keeping us so well informed (not)

U.S. Student Performance Slips on National Test

Fourth-graders and eighth-graders across the United States lost ground on national mathematics tests this year, the first declines in scores since the federal government began administering the exams in 1990. Reading performance also was sobering: Eighth-grade scores dropped, according to results released Wednesday, while fourth-grade performance was stagnant compared with 2013, the last time students took the test. The tests also show large achievement gaps between the nation’s white and minority students as well as between poor and affluent children, an indication that the nation’s disadvantaged students are not gaining ground despite more than a decade of federal law designed to boost their achievement. Many people look to the National Assessment of Educational Progress scores as an important barometer of U.S. student achievement because they are the only exams that have been given nationwide over a long period of time, capturing the performance of rich and poor children of all ethnicities in urban, suburban and rural communities. Peggy Carr, the federal official who oversees the tests, said the drops surprised her. But she cautioned against reading too much into the development, saying, “One downturn does not a trend make.” Carr said she would withhold judgment until 2017.

Large Number of Americans Don’t Celebrate Halloween

A LifeWay Research study has found that a large number of Americans choose to not celebrate Halloween due to its pagan elements. Charisma News reports that 21 percent of Americans say they try to avoid the holiday completely, while another 14 percent say they avoid the pagan elements of the holiday. Eighteen percent of Christians say they try to avoid Halloween, while 23 percent say they try to avoid its pagan elements. The study also found that, among Christians, Catholics were more favorably disposed toward the holiday than Protestants. Seventy-one percent of Catholics said the holiday was “all in good fun,” while only 49 percent of Protestants said the same thing. Evangelicals are the most likely to avoid Halloween altogether (28 percent), or to avoid the pagan elements (23 percent). Charisma News reports that Halloween’s popularity has exploded in the past few years, becoming a national industry with an estimated $6.9 billion to be spent on the holiday this year.

  • Halloween opens demonic doors and gives Satan more authority. God should be hallowed, not Satan.

Record Number of Expats Renouncing Citizenship

An increasing number of Americans are bidding Uncle Sam farewell. Many are expats tired of dealing with complicated tax paperwork — a headache that has increased lately as hefty tax regulations have kicked in. Last year, 15 times more Americans renounced their citizenship than in 2008. A record 1,426 Americans gave up their citizenship in the third quarter, according to new government data. Unlike most countries, the U.S. taxes citizens on all income — no matter where it’s earned, or where they live. For Americans living abroad, that means a mountain of paperwork so complex that expats are often forced to seek professional help, paying high fees to accountants and lawyers.

Sweden to Become World’s First Cashless Country

A study by the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm shows that Sweden is on track to become the world’s first cashless country. Today, five of six major banks in Sweden are already refusing to operate with cash. As a result, and considering the latest Tax Authority guidelines, Bitcoin has the potential to become a commonly used currency in Sweden. People are becoming increasingly accustomed to using bank cards to pay even for the smallest purchases in Sweden with four out of five purchases made electronically. Now, with the increasing penetration of mobile and P2P payment systems, the necessity to use cash is quickly becoming obsolete. Moreover, the recent launch of mobile payment app Swish from several major Swedish and Danish banks is already revolutionizing the local banking system, says Arvidsson. As a result, several major banks are refusing to accept cash at all.

Economic News

The U.S. economy cooled in the third quarter as businesses cut back amid weakness overseas. Gross domestic product – the value of goods and services produced in the country — expanded at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.5% in the July-September period, the Commerce Department said Thursday. That’s down from the second quarter when the economy surged at a 3.9% pace on solid consumer spending and business investment, releasing pent-up demand after harsh weather and a West Coast ports slowdown held first quarter growth to a meager 0.6%.

Energy giant Chevron plans to shed 6,000 to 7,000 jobs and slash its capital investment plan after low energy prices dealt a sharp blow to the company’s sales and profit in the third quarter. The company is latest in a series of energy giants that are turning to steep job cuts to stabilize its finances amid a prolonged slump for oil and natural gas prices. Chevron said it would lower its spending on capital investment and exploration activity by 25% to under $28 billion in 2016. It plans to slash that figure further to under $24 billion in 2017 and 2018.

A record breaking amount of cash is flocking to the United States. Foreign direct investment into the U.S. hit $200 billion in the first half of 2015, a record high according to a report published Thursday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It’s usually a sign that global investors are optimistic about the U.S. economy at a time when the rest of the global economy undergoes a slowdown. However, a lot of the money can be traced to foreign entities that are buying U.S. companies. Many of these companies then relocate overseas to escape high corporate taxes in the United States. About $86 billion of the $200 billion went towards chemical companies. Another $80 billion to manufacturing companies.

The gap between CEO retirement benefits and the nest eggs of average U.S. workers is even wider than the imbalance between compensation for the highest- and lowest-paid employees, a report issued Wednesday shows. The 100 largest retirement U.S. CEO retirement packages are worth a combined $4.9 billion, equal to the entire retirement account savings of 41% of American families, according to the report by the Center for Effective Government and the Institute for Policy Studies watchdog groups. The CEO nest eggs on average are worth more than $49.3 million, enough to produce a $277,686 monthly retirement check for life, the report said. In contrast, 31% of the bottom economic group of American families have nothing saved for retirement.

European Migrant Crisis

Austria will build a fence along its border with Slovenia to slow the flood of refugees heading to northern Europe, officials announced Wednesday. Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner told public broadcaster Ö1 that “this is about ensuring an orderly, controlled entry into our country, not about shutting down the border,” Swedish media outlet The Local reported. Meanwhile, Slovenia’s Prime Minister Miro Cerar said Wednesday that his country is ready to build a fence on its border with Croatia if a European Union plan to reduce the movements of refugees through tighter border controls fails. More than 86,000 people have entered Slovenia since Oct. 16, after Hungary closed its border with Croatia, forcing the Middle East refugees and migrants to seek an alternative route to European countries such as Germany. Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras branded the European response to its migrant crisis “inept” Friday after 22 people were confirmed drowned in the eastern Aegean Sea in two new incidents involving boatloads of people trying to reach European shores.

Austrians are arming themselves at record rates in an effort to defend their households against feared attacks from Muslim invaders. A Czech TV report confirms that long guns – shotguns and rifles – have been flying off the shelves in Austria, and Austrians who haven’t already purchased a gun may not have a chance to get one for some time. They’re all sold out. Tens of thousands of Muslim “refugees” have poured into Austria from Hungary and Slovenia in recent months on their way to Germany and Sweden, two wealthy European countries that have laid out the welcome mat for migrants. More than a million will end up in Germany alone by the end of this year, according to estimates from the German government. Obtaining a working firearm and ammunition in Germany, Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands is practically impossible for the average citizen. Germany, for instance, requires a psychological evaluation, the purchase of liability insurance and verifiable compliance with strict firearms storage and safety rules. And self-defense is not even a valid reason to purchase a gun in these countries, reports WND.com

Israel

The upcoming anniversary of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination 20 years ago by a Jewish extremist may also mark the death of Israel’s peace movement. Rabin, a hawkish general-turned prime minister, was gunned down in Tel Aviv on Nov. 4, 1995, during a pro-peace rally in what’s now called Rabin Square. Two decades later, Israel appears further away from the prospect for peace than ever. Quite a change from the time Rabin famously shook hands on the White House lawn with Palestinian Chairman Yasser Arafat in 1993 and signed the Oslo Peace Accords, giving Palestinians limited self-governance over parts of the West Bank and Gaza. Since then, Israel has moved to the right politically and no one is talking about an independent Palestinian state happening anytime soon. A small but vocal group of young Israeli extremists have built nearly 100 unauthorized settlement outposts and initiated confrontations with Palestinians.

Islamic State

The Pentagon is considering plans that would place U.S. advisers closer to ground combat in Iraq and Syria in a move that could amount to a major escalation in its war against the Islamic State, a senior defense official told USA Today. The potential move reflects growing concern at top government levels that U.S. military operations in Syria and Iraq are not making sufficient progress against the Islamic State. The options under consideration include placing U.S. advisers alongside local combat units in Iraq and embedding a small number of U.S. advisers with Syrian forces fighting the Islamic State, the official said. Last week, American Special Forces soldiers accompanied Kurdish units on a successful mission to rescue 70 prisoners from the Islamic State. A U.S. soldier was killed in the fighting.

Syria

Iran’s role in the Syrian civil war is getting more significant, with Iranian officials headed to peace talks while Tehran boosts its military power in the war-torn country. The United States had invited Iran to join the talks, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday. Meanwhile, Iran is increasing its military presence in Syria, a top commander told Iranian TV. Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami, deputy commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, said Iran is increasing both the quality and quantity of its presence in Syria, according to Iranian media. Salami said the Iranian officers were providing tactical help for Syrian commanders of battalions in direct battles, as well as weapons and ordnance, operational assistance and help with strategic planning.

Nigeria

Nigerian troops have rescued 338 captives, almost all children and women, from Boko Haram camps in a northeastern forest, the military said Wednesday. Thirty extremists were killed Tuesday in attacks on two camps on the fringes of the Islamic insurgents’ holdout in Sambisa Forest, according to a Defense Headquarters statement on social media. Separately troops ambushed and killed four suspects on a bombing mission in northeastern Adamawa state. Hundreds of people have died in suicide bombing attacks mainly targeting mosques and markets in recent months. Earlier this year, troops from Nigeria and Chad forced Boko Haram out of a large swath of northeastern Nigeria where Boko Haram, which is allied with the Islamic State group, had declared an Islamic caliphate.

China

More than 30 years after China imposed its controversial “one-child” policy, Chinese state media reported Thursday that it would be scrapped. The Xinhua news agency said China’s ruling Communist Party decided that all couples would now be allowed to have two children. It said the decision to remove remaining restrictions that limited couples to a single child was made “to improve the balanced development of (China’s) population.” The restrictions were introduced in 1980 to aggressively cap the number of children Chinese couples could have in an attempt to reduce the burden on resources amid the country’s rapidly expanding population.

Earthquakes

The U.S. Geological Survey says 435 small earthquakes have rattled the San Francisco Bay Area city of San Ramon in the last two weeks. USGS research geophysicist Brad Aagaard says the small quakes have been recorded since Oct. 13. Most of them have ranged from magnitudes-2.0 to -3.0. The largest was a magnitude-3.6 on Oct. 19. No damage or injuries have been reported. San Ramon and other nearby cities sit on the Calaveras Fault and have a history of earthquake swarms. The USGS says they’re not cause for extra concern and unlikely to lead to a large, damaging quake. Based on other swarms, the agency predicts that the series of quakes may persist for several more weeks.

The death toll in the magnitude-7.5 earthquake that rocked Pakistan and Afghanistan rose to 385 on Wednesday. Several aftershocks followed Monday’s quake, which was centered in a remote area in Afghanistan that borders Pakistan, Tajikistan and China. More than 10,000 homes were damaged in northwest Pakistan, while Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s office said that more than 7,600 homes were destroyed and 558 people injured in that country. Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority said that 267 Pakistanis were killed, 220 of them in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Afghanistan reported 115 dead, while three people died on the Indian side of the disputed region of Kashmir, the Associated Press reported.

Wildfires

Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia are choking under a thick haze of wildfire smoke caused by the annual burning of land for the production of pulp, paper and palm oil on the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan. The haze is so bad it’s been described by the Indonesian Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) as a “crime against humanity.” Schools are closed, transport disrupted and half a million cases of acute respiratory infection have been recorded since July. The annual burning churns out thick smoke across parts of Southeast Asia, but this summer’s haze is the worst it’s been for 20 years. Most of the forest fires that are contributing to this massive environmental disaster are started illegally by farmers who slash and burn peat forest to make way for agricultural land.

Weather

Another round of storms in Texas left damage in at least two small towns near San Antonio on Friday morning. Tornadoes are suspected. D’Hanis and Floresville took the hardest hit. A bank was destroyed, a high school severely damaged and other buildings were damaged as well, but there were no reports of injuries as of Friday morning. San Antonio officials reported more than a dozen road closures Friday morning as the heavy rain caused flooding. Severe weather is expected to continue in the Southern Plains throughout the day. Over the weekend, other areas could also see severe weather.

The Antarctic ozone hole widened to one of its largest sizes on record earlier this month, the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced Thursday. The hole’s large size was due to unusually cold temperatures in the stratosphere, the level of the atmosphere where the ozone hole and ozone layer are located, the agency said. On Oct. 2, the hole reached its largest size of the year, some 10.9 million square miles, bigger than the size of Russia and Canada combined. The largest hole on record was in 2000, when it reached 11.1 million square miles, NASA said. Located high up in the atmosphere, the ozone layer blocks potentially harmful ultraviolet energy from reaching the Earth’s surface. If unblocked, this energy could lead to increased rates of skin cancer and other ailments in humans and animals. The hole, discovered in the late 1970s, is a radical thinning of the ozone layer caused by the production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which at one time were used in refrigerators and aerosol sprays. The Montreal Protocol — an international treaty signed by 196 countries in the late 1980s — limited production of CFCs.

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