Signs of the Times (12/10/15)

2015 a “Watershed” Year as States Enacted 47 Pro-Life Bills

Nearly 400 pro-life bills were introduced in state legislatures nationwide in the last year, and 47 passed, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) in its “2015 State of the States” report. These included laws ranging from a ban on abortions for children capable of feeling pain, to defunding Planned Parenthood, to mandatory waiting periods and parental consent laws. One state stood out above all others in the CRR report. The Arkansas legislature enacted the highest number of new anti-abortion laws by a state this year, including a parental consent bill, which requires the notarized consent of one minor’s parent, except in medical emergencies.

CRR is actually a pro-choice (i.e. pro-abortion) group, so they see these pro-life wins as “onerous.” They touted “successes” such as the Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency (FACT) Act (AB 775), signed by California’s Democratic Governor Jerry Brown in October, which requires women’s pregnancy centers to tell mothers where they can obtain abortions. The group praised Illinois pro-choice Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner for signing a bill allowing “advanced practice nurses (APNs) to provide prescriptions for certain medications, including oral contraception and emergency contraception,” which can act as an abortifacient.

  • The momentum is beginning to shift toward pro-life so keep the prayers coming

Planned Parenthood Shooter Proclaims his Guilt in Court

During a court hearing today where prosecutors brought formal charges against alleged Planned Parenthood shooter Robert Lewis Dear, the accused shouted out during the hearings that he is guilty. Dear reportedly mentioned “baby body parts” when arrested at the scene of the crime, but he has no connections with the pro-life movement and has a long criminal record and is described by those who know him best as someone with clear mental health issues. Dear shouted and interrupted the proceedings, saying, ““I am guilty there will be no trial. I am a warrior for the babies.” “You’ll never know what I saw in that clinic. Atrocities. The babies. That’s what they want to seal,” he said, according to AP. Dear appears to have no association with the pro-life movement and those who know him say he is an awkward man who never discussed religion or abortion.

  • It makes no moral sense to take life to protest the taking of lives. Dear is clearly deranged and does not in any way represent the pro-life movement.

Feds to Indict Friend Who Bought Guns for San Bernardino Terrorists

Federal authorities are expected to bring charges against a former neighbor of San Bernardino gunman Syed Farook who bought two of the guns used in last week’s terror attack, Fox News reported Thursday. Enrique Marquez, who legally purchased the AR-15 rifles that Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik used to kill 14 people and injure 21 others at a social services building Dec. 2, will likely be indicted after having provided substantial information to investigators about Farook, Malik and their acquaintances. Law enforcement officials believe Farook and Marquez discussed executing an attack somewhere in the Los Angeles area in 2012, but decided not to do so after four people were arrested in nearby Riverside County in an unrelated terror case. Investigators believe Marquez bought the rifles and gave them or sold them to Farook in preparation for that planned attack. It is not clear what the target of the attack would have been.

Did San Bernardino Terrorists Act Alone?

During President Barack Obama’s prime-time Sunday night address to the American people, he made the claim that while the attacks certainly appeared to be terror-related, there was no evidence pointing to a “conspiracy” involving other people on either the domestic or international level. However, that claim may have just been disproved by the revelation of an unusually large deposit into the shooter’s bank account two weeks before the attack, according to Fox News. A $28,500 deposit was made to Syed Farook’s bank account from WebBank.com on or about Nov.18, some two weeks before he and his wife Tashfeen Malik carried out the San Bernardino massacre. On or about Nov.20, Fox News is told Farook converted $10,000 to cash, and withdrew the money at a Union Bank branch in San Bernardino. Afterwards, in the days before the shooting, there were at least three transfers of $5,000 that appear to be to Farook’s mother.

Minnesota Men Accused of Conspiring to Help ISIS

Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame, 20, of Eagan, Minnesota, was charged Wednesday by criminal complaint with conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. Court documents allege Warsame tried to help other young men from Minnesota’s Somali community travel to Syria to fight for the Islamic State. Nine others in that group have already been charged, authorities say. The documents allege Warsame and others settled on a plan of going to Syria by way of Mexico. FBI spokesman Kyle Loven said Warsame was arrested Wednesday night and is in custody. Five Minnesota men are scheduled to stand trial in May on charges including conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and conspiracy to commit murder outside the United States, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

More Mass Murders Under Obama than the Previous Four Presidents Combined

Using information compiled via a database with incidents, fatalities and injuries from real mass shootings in the United States, FreedomOutpost.com reports that during President Obama’s term of office, 162 mass murders and shootings with 864 fatalities have occurred. In comparison to previous Presidents: Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) saw 11 mass shootings with 101 fatalities; George H. W. Bush (1989-1993) saw 12 mass shootings with 94 fatalities; Bill Clinton (1993-2001) saw 23 mass shootings with 141 fatalities; and George W. Bush (2001-2009) saw 20 mass shootings with 158 fatalities. The total for the four previous Presidents is 66 shootings with 494 fatalities, much less combined than under Obama. The data was compiled by TruthStreamMedia.com via several sources.

  • Why? Obama has coddled Islamists and undermined U.S. security while claiming guns are the problem

Amnesty Report: ISIS Armed with U.S. Weapons

A new report from a prominent human rights group has found that ISIS has built a substantial arsenal, including U.S.-made weapons obtained from the Iraqi army and Syrian opposition groups. Amnesty International’s 44-page report, released late Monday, found that much of ISIS’ equipment and munitions comes from stockpiles captured from the U.S.-allied Iraqi military and Syrian rebels. The findings come as President Barack Obama has recommitted to leaning on regional forces, including the Iraqis, Kurds and Syrian opposition, to try to wipe out ISIS rather than committing significant numbers of U.S. ground troops. The Amnesty International report, however, concluded that it was from these local forces that ISIS acquired its arms.

  • This is nothing new. For decades the leading arms dealer in the world (the U.S.) has been inadvertently arming its future enemies

72 Homeland Security Employees on Terrorist Watch List

The Washington Free Beacon reported that at least 72 employees at the Department of Homeland Security are listed on the U.S. terrorist watch list, according to a Democratic lawmaker. Rep. Stephen Lynch (D., Mass.) disclosed that a congressional investigation recently found that at least 72 people working at DHS also “were on the terrorist watch list.” “Back in August, we did an investigation—the inspector general did—of the Department of Homeland Security, and they had 72 individuals that were on the terrorist watch list that were actually working at the Department of Homeland Security,” Lynch told Boston Public Radio. Lynch added that DHS continues to fail inspections aimed at determining the efficiency of its internal safety mechanisms, as well as its efforts to protect the nation.

  • Either the terrorist watch list is poorly constructed or DHS isn’t much of a protector

Mentally Ill 16 times More Likely to be Killed by Police

At a time of heightened concern over police shootings, a new report estimates that people with mental illness are 16 times more likely than others to be killed by police. About one in four fatal police encounters involves someone with mental illness, according to the report, released Thursday by the Virginia-based Treatment Advocacy Center, which focuses on the needs of people with serious mental illness. The problem stems from a lack of police training, as well as a lack of treatment for those with serious mental illness, said John Snook, the report’s co-author and executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center. In many cases, people with serious mental illness are unable to get treatment until their behavior attracts the attention of the police. Nearly 8 million Americans suffer from a serious mental illness that “disorders their thinking,” such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, according to the report. On any given day, half of these patients are not taking medications or receiving other care.

Rate of Growth in Carbon Dioxide Emissions has Slowed

The rapid spread of renewable energy and improvements in energy efficiency across the globe may have paid off in a big way this year. Researchers are projecting that for the first time in history, the rate of growth in global carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels will decline even as the global economy continues to grow. That decline could eventually lead to a peak in carbon emissions in the next decade or two, according to research led by Stanford University and published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change. In 2014, global carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels grew by just 0.6 percent. “This year we expect total emissions to flatten or drop slightly, despite strong growth in gross domestic product worldwide,” notes Rob Jackson, lead author of the report.

President Signs Bill Overhauling K-12 Education Policy

President Obama has signed a new federal law that overhauls K-12 education policy and ends more than a decade of strict federal control over schools. The Every Student Succeeds Act was passed by the House last week and the Senate approved it Wednesday It replaces the expired No Child Left Behind law and focuses less on standardized testing, making states once again responsible for fixing under-performing schools. Student performance will still be measured, but against new, locally designed standards. It’s the first major rewrite of elementary and secondary school policy since President George W. Bush signed No Child Left Behind in 2001. The Senate vote was 85-12 to pass the compromise measure, which won plaudits from conservatives and liberals alike. It passed the House 359-64 a week ago. No Child Left Behind expired in 2007 but stayed on the books because previous attempts at a rewrite failed.

Middle Class Rapidly Declining

Middle class Americans now comprise less than half, or 49.9%, of the nation’s population, down from 61% in 1971, according to a new Pew Research Center report. Pew defines middle class as those who live in households earning between two-thirds to two times the nation’s median income. In 2014, that ranged from $41,900 to $125,600 for a three-person household. For decades, the middle class had been the core of the country. A healthy middle class kept America strong, experts and politicians said. But more recently, middle-class residents have struggled under stagnating wages and soaring costs. Presidential candidates on both sides of the political aisle are campaigning on ways to bolster the nation’s middle class and increase opportunities to climb the economic ladder. The steady decline of the middle class is yet another sign of economic polarization, said Rakesh Kochhar, associate director of research at Pew. Not only are more Americans shifting into the upper and lower classes, but they are moving into the higher range of the upper class and the lower range of the lower class.

  • Minimizing the middle class is a socialistic one-world government strategy

Economic News

Oil prices have tumbled to the cheapest levels since the Great Recession. Oil tumbled another 6% on Wednesday to under $37 a barrel, its weakest level in almost seven years. A massive supply glut has wiped out two-thirds of oil’s value after it peaked at nearly $108 a barrel in June 2014. OPEC produced 31.7 million barrels a day in November, its latest monthly report shows. That is the highest output in over three years and 1.7 million barrels a day over its former production ceiling.

Energy companies that loaded up on debt during the oil boom are likely to have trouble paying back those loans. Oil prices have collapsed over 65% since the middle of last year. That’s fueling financial turmoil on Wall Street with Standard & Poor’s Ratings Service recently warning that a stunning 50% of energy bonds are “distressed,” meaning they are at risk of default. Overall, about $180 billion of debt is distressed. It’s the highest level since the end of the Great Recession.

China’s big cash pile is rapidly dwindling. On Monday, China’s central bank reported $3.4 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, the lowest level since early 2013. November was one of the biggest drops ever. Many Chinese see better opportunities abroad, whether it’s real estate in New York or London, pricey art, or stocks and bonds in other countries. Exact data is hard to come by from China, but Capital Economics forecasts that November set a record for people moving money out of China.

Persecution Watch

Barnabas Fund reported that 25 Christian hostages held by the Islamic State in Syria were released on 9 December. The group appears to comprise 23 men of various ages and two young boys. All 25 have now safely arrived in Tel Tamar village, in north-eastern Syria where they are being cared for by Barnabas Fund. These hostages are among a group of 253 believers who were captured in late February when militants raided the mainly Assyrian villages along the Khabur river in north-eastern Syria and have endured nine months at the hands of brutal jihadists. IS has been releasing some of the hostages, mainly the elderly, in small groups. A total of 120 of the group have now been released. In a shocking video released in early October, militants executed three male hostages and threatened to do the same with the remaining hostages if their ransom demands were not met. In total, 130 continue to be held.

Armed Muslim Seleka militants attacked a camp for internally displaced people in Central African Republic on 3 December, killing eight Christians and wounding one UN peacekeeper. Some of those who were wounded in the attack were taken to the community hospital in the capital city, Bangui, a local Christian leader told Barnabas. The attackers are supporters of Ali Darras, leader of the Seleka militants in Bambari. Thousands of people have been killed since Muslim Seleka seized power of the Christian-majority country in 2013.

Migrant Crisis

Germany has taken in 1 million asylum-seekers so far in 2015, according to the social minister for Bavaria, the southern German region where the vast majority of them arrive. The astounding figure shows how Germany has taken a front seat in Europe’s most serious refugee crisis since World War II. Germany’s total for this one year is way more refugees than the United States has resettled over the past 10 years. Asylum registration procedures are in place — even if they lag behind for years — and the quality of local accommodation is high. Volunteers have played an important role in welcoming the new arrivals. Labor officials have made it clear that the rapidly aging country could benefit from some new workers. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s efforts to keep Germany open to immigrants were partly what made Time magazine name her 2015 Person of the Year on Wednesday.

Middle East

A Palestinian terrorist stabbed and wounded an IDF soldier and a civilian Wednesday afternoon near Beit Hadassah, a building that houses Jewish families in the West Bank city of Hebron. The attacker was shot dead by nearby security personnel. In related news, security forces arrested five young Israeli-Arabs in Nazareth this week on suspicion that they were preparing to carry out terrorist attacks in the name of the Islamic State (IS) terror militia. The men, aged 18-27, were found to be in the possession of weapons and admitted under questioning to becoming supporters of IS after consuming IS media content on the internet.

Islamic State

An escaped teacher from Raqqa, Syria spoke to CNN about life in the ISIS capital: ISIS has turned Raqqa — once liberal and prosperous — into a nightmare. The group’s extreme interpretation of Sharia law enforces brutal violence. Decapitated heads line the main square. Lifeless bodies left in the streets. Despite ISIS’s attempts to portray their so-called Islamic State as a paradise, daily life became unbearable for Suleiman’s family. “ISIS gives anything for free to people who join them. The rest of us get nothing. There is no food, electricity or money. The people join ISIS out of hunger. They also put pressure on people to join by going after their livelihoods, saying ‘You are with us or against us.'” About the U.S.-led coalition’s airstrikes, Suleiman says, “There’s little impact (from the airstrikes) because most areas are empty, or ISIS evacuated before the strikes,” Suleiman said. “Generally, the strikes kill a relatively low number of ISIS fighters. When we were in Raqqa city, for example, the court (was) hit three times. It was empty.”

ISIS actually wants the United States to send in ground troops because that would fulfill sacred prophesies stating that Islam will be victorious worldwide after an apocalyptic battle to be set off once Western armies come to the region. In fact, when the United States first invaded Iraq, one of the most enthusiastic proponents of the move was the man who founded the terrorist cell that would one day become the Islamic State, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He excitedly called the Americans’ 2003 intervention “the Blessed Invasion,” reports the New York Times. The Islamic State’s propaganda is rife with references to apocalyptic prophecy about the last great battle that sets the stage for the end times.

  • Both Islam and Christianity foresee an apocalyptic battle in the Middle East, a final showdown between Isaac and Ishmael. The prophecies differ on who is the ultimate winner, Mohammed or Jesus Christ. Beforehand, however, the anti-Christ will arise to form a one-world government and bring temporary peace. (Revelation 11, Ezekiel 38-39)

Afghanistan

At least 46 people died and hostages were taken after the Taliban attacked an airport in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar. Another 35 people were wounded. The Taliban targeted the homes of government employees and the joint Afghan-NATO military base on the airport complex. Fourteen insurgents attacked the complex Tuesday evening wearing security forces’ uniforms. The Taliban said it carried out the attack and is holding hostages in homes and at a school, the BBC reported.

Iran

Iran has carried out a new medium range ballistic missile test in breach of two United Nations Security Council resolutions, a senior U.S. official told Fox News on Monday. Western intelligence says the test was held Nov. 21 near Chabahar, a port city in southeast Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan Province near the border with Pakistan. The launch took place from a known missile test site along the Gulf of Oman. The missile, known as a Ghadr-110, has a range of about 1200 miles, and is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. Iran appears to be in a race against the clock to improve the accuracy of its ballistic missile arsenal in the wake of the nuclear agreement signed in July.

Ukraine

Fighting between Ukraine’s military and separatist forces in the east has escalated with scant notice this fall as world attention is focused on increased terrorism and a refugee crisis caused by the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. Fighting that dropped off in September after Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists agreed to a new cease-fire plan picked up again in November, causing multiple deaths and injuries to Ukrainian troops. The fighting and a failure by Russia-backed separatists to implement measures of the cease-fire agreement make it unlikely the two sides will meet a self-imposed year-end deadline to end the conflict. NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned of renewed war. “Russian-backed separatists have not yet withdrawn their troops and equipment. Illegal groups in eastern Ukraine have not been disarmed. And Ukraine has not been able to re-establish control over its border,” Stoltenberg said.

North Korea

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un says his country has developed a hydrogen bomb, state media reported Thursday. However, information related to the highly secretive nation of North Korea, which has nuclear weapons, is extremely difficult to independently confirm. A report by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said the country is now a “powerful nuclear weapons state ready to detonate a self-reliant A-bomb (atomic bomb) and H-bomb (hydrogen bomb) to reliably defend its sovereignty and the dignity of the nation.” Thermonuclear bombs, or hydrogen bombs, are far more powerful than conventional nuclear weapons.

China

At least six people were killed in a massive pileup in China that involved 33 cars and was blamed on the country’s thick, choking smog. The crash occurred in Shanxi Province, southwest of Beijing, on an expressway near the town of Taiyuan. The smog created horrendous driving conditions as visibilities plummeted Tuesday morning, the report added. Northern China has seen some of the worst smog pollution on record in recent days. The dangerous smog has reached levels 40 times worse than what is considered safe, leading to the closure of schools, factories and construction sites. The local government ordered an odd-even license-plate system for vehicles, keeping half of Beijing’s automobiles off the roads

Weather

A very mild weather pattern for early-December standards has engulfed a large swath of the Lower 48 states. Temperatures will soar up to 30 degrees above early-December averages through this weekend as the mild air spreads from the western and central states to the East Coast. For some locations, the low temperatures this week will be as warm or even warmer than the average high for this time of year.

A section of the Miami zoo meant to mimic the rainforest got a little too much rain this past week, forcing the zoo to close to the public on Monday. A lagoon in the “Amazon and Beyond” attraction flooded, along with public walkways and exhibitors in other parts of the zoo, due to unusually rainy weather. More than 14 inches of rain has hit parts of the Miami area over the last week, which is 13.64 inches above the average for the entire month of December.

Monday was the wettest calendar day in recorded history in Portland, and the rain was expected to stick around for days. Nearly 2.7 inches of rain on Monday. The previous record was set on Nov. 19, 1996. The storm caused floods, numerous landslides, road closures and even a sinkhole. Roads in Portland, Oregon, have been left impassable by flooding that ejected manhole covers, while mudslides broke sewer pipes and sent sewage into the streets. Torrential rains pummeled parts of the Pacific Northwest again early Wednesday causing mudslides and flooding roads, leaving two women dead in Oregon and sweeping seven people into a Washington river, where they were rescued.

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