Signs of the Times (11/23/15)

The Paris Attacks: More Than Meets the Eye

The Paris attacks, the refugee crisis, ISIS, a world on the verge of global war: it’s all a manipulated contrivance of the globalist elite to eviscerate freedom and usher in Huxley’s “Brave New World,” aka George H.W. Bush’s “New World Order,” notes Pastor Chuck Baldwin.” Folks, get your eyes off of the Wizard and start looking for the man (men) behind the curtain, because that’s the real enemy.” For an alternate view of ISIS and Syria, go to http://www.newswithviews.com/baldwin/baldwin883.htm

FOX News Poll: Majorities Call for War against ‘Radical Islam,’ Oppose Syrian Refugees

Most American voters believe Islamic terrorists will strike the U.S. soon. A Fox News national poll released Sunday also finds Democrats and Republicans united against President Obama’s plan to accept Syrian refugees, since voters think at least one will be a terrorist. Sixty-six percent of voters feel that the U.S. is at war with radical Islam, and Democrats who refuse to call the enemy by that name are doing the wrong thing. They also feel (60%) that Obama has not fought the war against ISIS aggressively enough, and that war is going badly. Respondents say that terrorism is now the top problem facing the country, and an attack is likely soon. The majority (67%) believe that Bringing Syrian refugees into the U.S. is a bad idea.

House Passes Bill to Suspend Intake of Refugees in U.S.

A bill that would suspend the U.S. refugee program passed in the House last Thursday. The bill suspends the program that would allow Iraqi and Syrian refugees into the country until top security agencies approve entrance. The House voted 289-137. Forty-seven Democrats voted with Republicans for the bill. Minority Leader Harry Reid has said that he would try to block the bill in the Senate, and President Barack Obama has said he would veto the bill. But House Speaker Paul Ryan said national security is “at stake.” The veto threat “baffles me,” Ryan said, “especially given the fact that his own law enforcement top officials came to Congress and testified that there are gaps in this refugee program.”

Syrian Refugees Caught Before Entering U.S.

Honduras police just caught a group of Syrians with fake and stolen Greek passports who were trying to sneak into the U.S. through Mexico, a police spokesman in Tegucigalpa told Reuters last week. At least one suspect in Friday’s terror attack in Paris had reportedly entered Europe with a fake Syrian passport. The suspects in Honduras were in police custody, and had flown to the country from Costa Rica. They were trying to arrive in the U.S. by land, presumably by traveling through Mexico, the police spokesman added.

Two federal agents operating under the umbrella of U.S. Customs and Border Protection claim that eight Syrian illegal aliens attempted to enter Texas from Mexico in the Laredo Sector. The federal agents spoke with Breitbart Texas on the condition of anonymity, however, a local president of the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) confirmed that Laredo Border Patrol agents have been officially contacting the organization with concerns over reports from other federal agents about Syrians illegally entering the country in the Laredo Sector, reports Conservative Byte.

Europe & U.S. Under Terror Alert

New York conducted an extensive active-shooter drill with an eye toward the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and Brussels extended its highest alert into Monday as major cities in Europe and the United States hunker down in the face of chilling threats of terror. In Brussels, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel extended the highest alert level for at least another day, citing an “imminent threat” to the capital. The city was in a virtual lockdown, with commuter rails and schools ordered closed and most cultural and sports venues also shuttered. Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon said “several suspects” linked to the Nov. 13 Paris attacks were being sought in Belgium.

Eighty Radical Mosques in U.S.

There are more than 80 radical mosques are in the U.S., according to the Clarion Project, a non-profit group that describes itself as “dedicated to exposing the dangers of Islamist extremism.” These mosques or their leading clerics have radicalized attendees to become terrorists, supported terrorist organizations, made radical Islamist remarks or hosted others that have, or are financially backed by radical individuals or organizations. “Islamist extremists have developed a sophisticated network of interconnected organizations across America,” according to Clarion. “The common thread among these organizations is their ideology of political Islam, which aspires to implement Shariah governance and to establish a global Islamic caliphate.”

Obama Admin Blocks 75 Percent of Islamic State Strikes

U.S. military pilots who have returned from the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq are confirming that they were blocked from dropping 75 percent of their ordnance on terror targets because they could not get clearance to launch a strike, reports minutemennews.com. Strikes against the Islamic State targets are often blocked due to an Obama administration policy to prevent civilian deaths and collateral damage, according to Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The policy is being blamed for allowing Islamic State militants to gain strength across Iraq and continue waging terrorist strikes throughout the region and beyond, according to Royce and former military leaders who spoke Wednesday about flaws in the U.S. campaign to combat the Islamic State.

  • As with other terror groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, the Islamic State purposely hides behind civilians knowing the West is reluctant to cause ‘collateral damage’

Terror Attacks Seen as Evidence of a Shift by ISIS

The recent attacks in Paris and Beirut and the downing of a Russian airliner in Egypt were the first results of a centrally planned terrorism campaign by a wing of the Islamic State leadership that oversees “external” targets, according to American and European intelligence officials, reports the New York Times. Carrying out attacks far from the Islamic State’s base in Iraq and Syria represents an evolution of the group’s previous model of exhorting followers to take up arms wherever they live — but without significant help from the group. And it upends the view held by the United States and its allies that the Islamic State as a only regional threat. One possible motivation of the change in strategy by the Islamic State, also called ISIS or ISIL, is to seize leadership of the global jihad from Al Qaeda — from which the Islamic State broke away in 2013.

Terror Mastermind Killed in Paris Raid, Entered France as Refugee

The mastermind of the Paris terror attacks died during a massive police raid Wednesday in a Paris suburb, the Paris prosecutor said Thursday. The bullet-riddled body of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 27, was among two suspects found in the rubble following a police assault on an apartment in Saint Denis. France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Friday some of the Paris attackers, including the mastermind Abdelhamid Abaaoud, exploited the Syrian refugee crisis to slip into the country unnoticed. French officials said they believe that the terror cell directed by Abaaoud was preparing for another terror attack only days after their initial murderous spree left 129 people dead in central Paris. French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Thursday that Abaaoud has also been linked to other attacks in Europe over the past year, including attacks on synagogues, and may be connected to an attempted assault aboard an Amsterdam to Paris train in August that was thwarted by three Americans. Turkish authorities arrested three people with suspected ties to ISIS in last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris, CNN Turk reported Saturday.

Gunmen Hit Luxury Hotel in Mali, Take Hostages, 3 Dead

Gunmen in Mali stormed a Radisson Blu hotel popular with foreigners in Bamako, the nation’s capital, on Friday, taking some 170 people hostage. The takeover, which was punctuated by gunfire and explosions, according a Malian military official. Malian security forces, aided by U.S. and French special forces, ended the 7-hour siege that left up to 27 hostages and two extremists dead. The U.S. Department of State confirmed that an American citizen is among those who were killed. One guest earlier reported that the attackers instructed him to recite verses from the Quran before he was allowed to leave the hotel. A security source told Reuters that as many as 10 gunmen stormed the building, firing shots and shouting, “God is great,” in Arabic. Malian security forces were hunting “more than three” suspects on Saturday.

Boko Haram Overtakes ISIS as World’s Deadliest Terror Group

With its reign of terror in the Middle East, its claim to have brought down a Russian passenger jet and now, the atrocities in Paris, ISIS has commanded global headlines as the world’s most dangerous terror group. But another militant Islamist organization overtook ISIS to become the world’s deadliest terrorist group last year, according to a new report from the Institute for Economics and Peace. Boko Haram, the Islamic extremist group based mainly in Nigeria’s northern states, was responsible for 6,644 deaths in 2014, an increase of 317% from the previous year, according to the Global Terrorism Index, released Tuesday. By contrast, ISIS, the terror group to which Boko Haram reportedly pledged allegiance in March of this year, was responsible for 6,073 deaths. There were 32,658 people killed in terrorist attacks last year — nine times more victims than there were in 2000, the report says.

  • Evil is ramping up in the end-time march toward the Tribulation

Security Tight as Obama Arrives in Malaysia for ASEAN Summit

Security was heightened in the wake of several recent terror attacks as President Obama arrived in this capital city Friday for a series of regional meetings focused on terrorism and China’s increasing assertiveness in the South China Sea. No specific threats against the country were confirmed, but Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said reports of a leaked police memo warning of suicide bombings were legit. Local media reported the memo said the Islamic State and the Philippine Islamic extremist group Abu Sayyaf were planning to carry out attacks in Kuala Lumpur and Sabah, a Malaysian state on the island of Borneo.

Refugee Crisis Not Just about Syrians

The heart-wrenching plight of desperate refugees, most of them Syrians, who are fleeing to Europe by land or sea is a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. Yet it is only part of a troubling trend that has reached unprecedented levels: More people from every corner of the globe have been uprooted by war, persecution or natural disasters than ever before in history. In the U.S., the vast majority of migrants trying to cross the southwestern border are no longer Mexicans looking for better-paying jobs. Now it’s people fleeing Central America for their personal safety. Refugees of African countries to South Africa are the targets of attack in their new home, blamed for taking jobs from locals. The Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority living in Burma, have fled the country on rickety and overcrowded boats, seeking refuge in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Instead, they often find themselves trapped again, snared in a transnational network of smugglers and traffickers that exploits the desperate migrants.

More Mexicans Leaving the U.S. than Arriving

More Mexicans are now leaving the U.S. than are coming into the country, a Pew Research Center report said Thursday. While tougher enforcement of immigration laws has been a significant factor in the reversal, most of the departing Mexicans are leaving on their own. Citing Mexican census figures, the report found that 1 million Mexicans and their families (including U.S.-born children) left the U.S. for Mexico from 2009 to 2014. It said that U.S. census data for the same period shows an estimated 870,000 Mexicans entered the U.S. Pew’s findings accounted for both documented and undocumented immigrants. Among the most common reasons Mexicans are saying adiós to the USA are a slow economic recovery here and the fact that they miss their families back home, the study found.

Anonymous Hackers Thwart Islamic State Online

While the Islamic State has had much success using social media to get its message out, a loose band of activists who go by the name “hunters” are just as busy trying to shut it down. The hactivist group Anonymous, the most well-known of these hunters, tweeted Wednesday that more than 6,080 IS Twitter accounts had been disabled due to its efforts. Ghost Security Group, which goes by the name GhostSec, collects reports of Islamic extremist groups and works to remove their content. These sometimes overlapping groups are called “hunters,” said Veryan Khan, editorial director with the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, a private firm that collects information on terrorism. “Hunting groups are volunteer cyber militias,” she said.

STD Rates Rise Dramatically in U.S.

The news in this year’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report on sexually transmitted diseases is not good. The number of cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea in the United States increased between 2013 and 2014, after being on the decline for several years. Cases of syphilis, which have been on the rise for the last decade, shot up in 2014. “This is a bare minimum of the number of infections occurring in the U.S.,” said Dr. Gail Bolan, director of CDC’s Division of Sexually Transmitted Disease Prevention. There could be many cases that went undiagnosed because the infections did not cause symptoms.

UnitedHealth Warns It May Exit Obamacare Plans

Insurance giant UnitedHealth Group dealt a blow to the Affordable Care Act on Thursday when it warned that it may stop offering insurance plans to individuals through the public exchanges established by the reform law. In a surprise, UnitedHealth downgraded its earnings forecast in a sign that ACA, commonly referred to as Obamacare, are taking a toll on the company’s bottom line. People who purchase plans through the public exchanges are typically heavy users of their plans, draining insurers’ profits. UnitedHealth warned investors that it would reap $425 million less in revenue during the fourth quarter than it had previously expected. News that not even UnitedHealth Group can make money on the Obamacare exchanges is rattling the entire healthcare industry. Five health-care stocks in the S&P 500, including hospitals Tenet Healthcare and HCA Holding, and insurers Aetna, Anthem and UnitedHealth were down 5.6% or more Thursday.

Economic News

The Federal Reserve says it’s the pace of interest rate hikes that investors should be focusing on, not the timing of the first increase in nearly a decade. And the pace of the rate-hike cycle will be executed “gradually.” That was the message the U.S. central bank sent to Wall Street on Wednesday in the release of the minutes of its October policy meeting. Rates are still at emergency low levels in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis as the Fed has seen the need to keep borrowing rates low to stimulate the slow economic rebound. Most Federal Reserve policymakers agreed last month that the economy “could well” be strong enough in December to withstand the Fed’s first Interest rate hike in nearly a decade. Patients might not be concerned enough about these diseases, said Dr. Laura Elizabeth Riley, director of obstetrics and gynecology infectious disease at Massachusetts General Hospital. “These are things that are treatable but also avoidable,” she said.

U.S. housing starts in October fell to a seven-month low, weighed down by a steep decline in the construction of multi-family homes, but a surge in building permits suggested the housing market remained on solid ground. Groundbreaking dropped 11 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.06 million units last month, the lowest level since March, the Commerce Department said. October marked the seventh straight month that starts remained above 1 million units, the longest stretch since 2007. Building permits increased 4.1 percent to a 1.15 million-unit rate.

A massive supply glut has caused global oil prices to crash this year. Ferocious production from OPEC and near-record U.S. output is adding to sky-high oil inventories around the world. The oversupply problem has gotten so bad that oil tankers waiting to be offloaded are piling up off the U.S. Gulf Coast because there’s nowhere to put the crude. So-called “floating storage” of crude oil soared to nearly triple the normal level last week in a “super tanker traffic jam, according to ClipperData, which tracks global shipments of crude.

Persecution Watch

A visibly orthodox Jewish man was stabbed in Marseilles, France, Wednesday evening by three Islamic State supporters. Marseilles prosecutor Brice Robin said three men on bikes approached the victim, a history teacher at a local Jewish school, on the street. “The three people insulted, threatened and then stabbed their victim in the arm and leg. They were interrupted by the arrival of a car and fled,” Robin told Reuters, adding that one of the assailants was wearing a t-shirt with the Islamic State logo.

Middle East

An American teen was among five people killed Thursday in a pair of attacks by Palestinians, including a stabbing at an office building in Tel Aviv. A knife-wielding Palestinian man fatally stabbed two Israeli men in a southern Tel Aviv office building before being apprehended. A shooter opened fire on an Israeli car from his vehicle. The Israeli military said the vehicle fled the scene and “intentionally” rammed his vehicle into a group of pedestrians. The attack took place in Gush Etzion, an area south of Jerusalem. Police told Reuters that the number of Israelis who have died in a wave of violence over the past seven weeks, stemming from tensions over the Temple Mount, has risen to 16, along with 79 Palestinians. The Hamas militant group, on Twitter, praised the attack.

Islamic State

China has vowed to bring ISIS to justice after the group said it had executed two hostages, a Chinese and a Norwegian. But how to respond to Fan Jinghui’s “cold-blooded and violent” death presents a dilemma for China, which has stayed on the sidelines in the fight against ISIS and has a long-held principle of noninterference in other countries’ affairs. To date, Beijing has been vague on the question of what it will contribute to the global fight against ISIS and has declined to explicitly offer its support for airstrikes being conducted against the group in Syria.

Syria

Syria’s president says his forces are advancing on “almost” all fronts thanks to Russian airstrikes that began nearly two months ago and have tipped the balance in his favor in some parts of the country. Russia, which has conducted an air campaign in Syria since Sept. 30, sharply raised its intensity in recent days on President Vladimir Putin’s orders after Moscow said it had confirmed that a bomb brought down a Russian plane over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board. Assad said the Russian airstrikes are more effective than those of the U.S.-led coalition because Moscow is coordinating with his government, saying “you cannot fight terrorism with airstrikes alone.” The Kuwaiti newspaper Daily al-Rai reported on Monday that Russia has deployed ground troops to Syria in direct support of the Assad regime, supplementing the Kremlin’s reinforced and intensified air campaign. Fierce fighting continued Monday in several areas of Syria, adding to the death toll in the nearly five-year-old conflict which some observers estimate has already resulted in over 300,000 deaths and many more wounded and displaced

Russia

Russia’s counter-terrorism agency says it has raided the hideout of armed militants in the North Caucasus and killed 11 of them. The National Anti-Terrorist Committee said the militants were part of a group whose members had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. An Islamic insurgency has long simmered in the predominantly Muslim North Caucasus republics of southern Russia. The region, which includes Chechnya and Dagestan, has recently become a fertile ground for ISIS propaganda and recruitment.

Afghanistan

Threatening letters from the Taliban, once tantamount to a death sentence, are now being forged and sold to Afghans who want to start a new life in Europe. The handwritten notes on the stationery of the so-called Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan had been traditionally sent to those alleged to have worked with Afghan security forces or U.S.-led troops, listing their “crimes” and warning that a “military commission” would decide on their punishment. They would close with the mafia-style caveat that insurgents “will take no further responsibility for what happens in the future.” But nowadays the Taliban say they have mostly ceased the practice, while those selling forged threat letters are doing a brisk business as tens of thousands of Afghans flee to Europe, hoping to claim asylum. Forgers say a convincing threat letter can go for up to $1,000.

Iran

Iran has started cutting back on some nuclear technology, which could be reengineered to make nuclear weapons, in line with a deal with six world powers, a U.N. nuclear agency report said Wednesday. However, diplomats familiar with the report said that the country is keeping thousands of machines that could be used for such a purpose on standby. The U.N’s International Atomic Energy Agency report and the diplomats’ assessments present a mixed picture of the pace of Iran’s moves to comply with the July 14 deal it signed with the six countries and come about a month after the deal was formally adopted on Oct. 18. A total reduction of about 4,500 of the nearly 20,000 machines was reported. Iran had previously set up. But the diplomats said all of the machines that have been taken out were previously idle. Thousands of centrifuges that were spinning uranium into enriched levels used for fuel are no longer online but remain on standby and can be restarted at short notice, reports United Against Nuclear Iran.

Argentina

Opposition candidate Mauricio Macri is poised to become Argentina’s next President after a runoff vote that marks the end of a political dynasty. Daniel Scioli, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s hand-picked successor, conceded defeat. Fernandez, who’s slated to leave office in December after eight years at the helm, Sunday’s closely watched vote was a test of whether her populist political legacy would endure. It could also change how the South American country handles its debt problems and interacts with Wall Street. Macri said he wants to rewrite the playbook on Argentina’s economy — a campaign promise that made him popular on Wall Street and drew sharp criticism from his opponents.

Earthquakes

The largest earthquake of the year rattled northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas early Thursday morning. The USGS said the magnitude 4.7 quake happened at 1:42 a.m. local time and was centered about 8 miles southwest of Cherokee, about 20 miles south of the Kansas border. The center of the quake was shallow — about four miles under the surface — and people in the communities of Cherokee and nearby Alva reported feeling strong shaking.

Weather

The first significant wintry storm of the season blanketed parts of the Midwest with a foot of snow Friday and more was on the way Saturday, creating hazardous conditions as some travelers prepared to depart for the Thanksgiving holiday. While winter has not officially begun, the shovels and snow blowers were out from South Dakota and southern Minnesota, to Iowa, Wisconsin and northern Illinois. The National Weather Service said the snow would continue in Illinois and Indiana on Saturday, as well as move into Michigan before heading northeast into Canada late Saturday.

Severe thunderstorms tore through parts of northern Argentina and southern Brazil Wednesday into early Thursday, dumping damaging hail, flooding rain, even spawning a tornado. Hail up to the size of tennis balls pelted parts of Córdoba and Santa Fe provinces, west and northwest of the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires last Wednesday.

After nearly a week of non-stop rain in India, 59 people are dead after over 21 inches of rain fell in the past week. More than 138,000 people have been impacted by floods, landslides and heavy rains in Sri Lanka, according to the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society.

In Myanmar, heavy rains caused a landslide near a jade mine has killed more than 100 people and left hundreds missing. Most of the victims are villagers who had been sifting through waste and processed mining materials when the landslide struck Saturday afternoon in Kachin state. The region is home to some of the world’s highest quality jade, producing billions of dollars a year from it.

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