Signs of the Times (2/5/16)

Eight Major Identical Twin Studies Prove Homosexuality Is Not Genetic

Eight major studies of identical twins in Australia, the U.S., and Scandinavia during the last two decades all arrive at the same conclusion: gays were not born that way, reports RedFlagNews.com. “At best genetics is a minor factor,” says Dr. Neil Whitehead, PhD. Whitehead worked for the New Zealand government as a scientific researcher for 24 years, then spent four years working for the United Nations and International Atomic Energy Agency. Identical twins have the same genes or DNA. They are nurtured in equal prenatal conditions. If homosexuality is caused by genetics or prenatal conditions and one twin is gay, the co-twin should also be gay. “Because they have identical DNA, it ought to be 100%,” Dr. Whitehead notes. But the studies reveal something else. “If an identical twin has same-sex attraction the chances the co-twin has it are only about 11% for men and 14% for women.”

Congress Accuses Kerry/Obama of Paying $1.7 Billion Ransom to Iran

The chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee demanded Wednesday that Secretary of State John Kerry explain the $1.7 billion settlement paid to Iran that some Republicans have described as a “ransom” tied to last month’s release of five American prisoners. The Obama administration claimed the agreement was made to settle a dispute with Iran over $400 million in frozen funds that dated back to 1979. The remaining $1.3 billion was described by the Obama administration as “interest”. The White House announced the payment on Jan. 17, the same day that Iran released five American prisoners, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, former Marine Amir Hekmati, and Christian pastor Saeed Abedini.

  • Since it is against long-standing U.S. policy to negotiate with terrorists, Kerry/Obama tried to get away with a backdoor claim that it was an ‘interest’ payment, typical obfuscation by Emperor Obama

Size of ISIS Army Remains the Same Despite U.S. Air Campaign

The number of fighters in the Islamic State’s army largely “remains the same” as it did a year ago, a U.S. official briefed told Fox News. Officially, ISIS is estimated to have between 20,000 and 25,000 fighters based on the new intelligence estimate, as first reported by USA Today. A year ago, ISIS was estimated to have between 19,000 and 31,000 fighters. The new estimate means that despite more than 10,000 U.S.-led coalition airstrikes against ISIS starting in August 2014, ISIS largely has maintained the size of its force – due in part to an emerging practice of “forced conscription” and an influx of new members, including foreign fighters flocking to ISIS’ self-declared caliphate. Territory, however, has been taken back from the vast terror network in that time. The U.S. military estimates that 40 percent of ISIS-held territory in Iraq has been retaken.

Zika Update

The Florida Department of Health has confirmed two cases of the Zika virus in Lee County, bringing the state’s number of such infections to nine. Gov. Rick Scott declared a health emergency in four counties Wednesday. Health officials say all the affected Floridians, including the two in Lee County, were infected in Colombia, El Salvador, Haiti or Venezuela. Other Florida cases include four Miami-Dade County residents, two from Hillsborough County and one from Santa Rosa County. None of Florida’s confirmed Zika cases involve pregnant women, the health department reported. Zika has been sexually transmitted in Texas, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday. It is the first known case of the virus being locally acquired in the continental United States in the current outbreak.

The World Health Organization declared the rise in birth defects linked to the Zika virus outbreak a public health emergency on Monday, underscoring the seriousness of the problem and paving the way for more money, greater attention and a coordinated global response. Doctors connect Zika, which is spread by mosquitoes, to a surge in neurological disorders and the birth defect microcephaly, in which infants are born with abnormally small heads and incomplete brain development. Experts agree that Zika virus is “strongly suspected, though not yet scientifically proven” to be the cause of these problems, and “as a precautionary measure, a coordinated international response is needed,” WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said.

Pregnant family members of active-duty personnel and civilian Defense Department employees assigned to areas with the Zika virus will be offered voluntary relocation, a Defense Department official said Monday. Responding to a growing concern over the “explosive” outbreak of Zika virus in South and Central America as well as the Caribbean, the U.S. Southern Command also is identifying ways to support partner nations but has not yet received requests for help. Department of Defense researchers at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and Naval Medical Research units are stepping up efforts to develop vaccines, diagnostic tests and treatments for Zika and related viruses. The Pentagon will collaborate with other government agencies as part of the U.S. response, led by the Health and Human Services Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Chicago Homicide Rates Spiking

The nation’s third largest city recorded 51 homicides in January, the highest toll for the month since at least 2000. Gang conflicts and retaliatory violence drove the “unacceptable” increase in homicides, the police department said in a statement. But the rise in violence also notably comes as the Chicago Police Department faces increased scrutiny following the court-ordered release of a police video showing a white police officer fatally shooting a black teenager 16 times. Chicago routinely records more homicides annually than any other American city, but the grim January violence toll marks a shocking spike in violence in a city that recorded 29 murders for the month of January last year and 20 murders for the month in 2014. The rise in violence comes after the Chicago Police Department reported 468 murders in 2015, a 12.5% increase from the year before. There were also 2,900 shootings, 13% more than the year prior.

Economic News

Payroll growth slowed in January as employers added 151,000 jobs, down from over 250,000 in December, raising concerns that troubles overseas may be dampening business confidence and rattling the U.S. economy. The unemployment rate fell to 4.9% from 5%, the Labor Department said Friday. That’s the lowest rate since February 2008. Surveys of both the manufacturing and service sectors showed significantly weaker hiring. And initial jobless claims, a reliable measure of layoffs, rose. The reports have raised concerns that the struggles of manufacturers stemming from a weak global economy, strong dollar and low oil prices may be spreading to the previously healthy service sector, which comprises about 80% of economic activity.

The International Monetary Fund says several countries are running out of money because of cheap oil. Translation: Loans and bailouts for oil countries are likely coming. “I think of a country like Nigeria, for instance, where 90% of its exports and 60% of its revenue are generated by oil or oil-related revenues,” IMF Director Christine Lagarde said Sunday. Nigeria is considering asking the World Bank, the African Development Bank and other international organizations for a $9 billion loan. Azerbaijan is looking for an emergency loan of up to $4 billion.

Beneath the surface of the global financial system lurks a multitrillion-dollar problem that could sap the strength of large economies for years to come, reports the New York Times. The problem is the giant, stagnant pool of loans that companies and people around the world are struggling to pay back. Bad debts have been a drag on economic activity ever since the financial crisis of 2008, but in recent months, the threat posed by an overhang of bad loans appears to be rising. China is the biggest source of worry. Some analysts estimate that China’s troubled credit could exceed $5 trillion, a staggering number that is equivalent to half the size of the country’s annual economic output.

General Motors reported the best profit margin in its 107-year history in 2015, just six years after the company was saved by a federal bailout. Last year, GM reported net income of $9.7 billion, more than tripling its 2014 results. The company’s profit margin reached 7.1%, up from 4.2%. The nation’s largest automaker benefited from strong car sales in both the United States and China, where it now sells more cars than it does at home. Total global sales came to 9.8 million cars and trucks, the third straight year GM set a record for the company.

America is pumping so much oil that it’s running out of places to keep it all. The U.S. now has nearly 503 million barrels of commercial crude oil stockpiled, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday. That’s up from 285 million barrels in 2000. The sky-high inventories are the latest sign that the U.S. oil boom is still alive and kicking. U.S. oil production is near all-time highs despite the epic crash in oil prices from $107 a barrel in June 2014 to just $30 a barrel now. Global inventories also remain high, with the International Energy Agency recently saying the world is “drowning” in oil. The agency is bracing for oversupply of 1.5 million barrels per day in the first half of 2016.

Venezuela has more oil than any other country on the planet. But it has started importing American crude. The fact that Venezuela is importing American oil is raising eyebrows because Venezuela has 298 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, according to the Energy Information Administration. That’s more than Saudi Arabia, Russia or Iran and eight times the reserves of the United States. But the oil extracted in Venezuela is very heavy and hard to refine and then sell to other countries. Venezuela needs to first mix its heavy oil with lighter types of crude to balance out the quality.

Chinese firms are opening their wallets for a record global shopping spree as they look to make up for slowing economic growth at home. Just one month into 2016, Chinese companies have announced plans to buy 66 foreign companies worth $68 billion. That’s equivalent to 60% of the value of all such deals last year, according to Dealogic. A broad range of Chinese companies has fueled the record start to the year. And the deal flow is expected to continue, experts say. The latest takeover came Wednesday: State-owned ChemChina offered $43 billion for Switzerland’s Syngenta, a global supplier of pesticides and seeds. If approved by regulators, the purchase would be the largest overseas takeover ever by a Chinese corporation.

Middle East

The US Drug Enforcement Administration announced this week that they have, in cooperation with law enforcement agencies from 7 other nations, arrested several operatives of the Lebanese Shi’ite terror militia Hezbollah as part of a year-long operation code-named “Project Cassandra”. The arrests disrupted a global criminal enterprise Hezbollah was using to finance its participation in the Syrian conflict, as well as plan for a future war with Israel.

Israelis suffered another terror attack Thursday, this time coming from two teenaged Arab girls who stabbed a security guard at the entrance to the central bus station in the southern city of Ramle. The guard was taken to a hospital while his attackers were arrested by security services. The attack came a day after 19-year old Border Police officer Hadar Cohen was killed and one of her comrades wounded by an attack by three Palestinian terrorists near the Damascus Gate to Jerusalem’s Old City

This week’s decision by the Israeli government to open a section of the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City for non-Orthodox prayer and mixed-gender services was denounced on Monday by the Palestinian Authority as an unacceptable change in the status quo. “Al Aqsa Mosque is part of the faith of the Muslims and belongs only to Muslims,” declared Palestinian Minister for Wakf and Religious Affairs, Sheikh Yusef Edais. “This includes all its structures, yards, walls and gates. The Jews have no connection to it whatsoever. This offensive against Jerusalem is aimed at consolidating the occupation in it and turning it into a Jewish city by falsifying its history and displacing its original residents.” Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, made a similar statement, calling the decision a “brutal attack on the Waqf and additional evidence of the Israeli aggression against Muslim holy places, in an attempt to Judaize Jerusalem.”

  • Solomon’s temple pre-existed Islam by around 1,700 years, so their revisionist claims are ludicrous

Islamic State

Members of the international coalition fighting the Islamic State gathered Tuesday in Rome where they discussed how to prevent the extremist group from gaining a stranglehold in Libya and seizing its oil wealth. The Islamic State is close to seizing Libyan oil refineries — and gain a major new revenue source — as the terror group expands its presence in the war-torn country. Islamic State fighters have pushed toward critical port facilities near their Libyan stronghold of Sirte. Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that the United States and its allies have made progress against the Islamic State in parts of Iraq and Syria but are concerned that the militant group has spread into Libya.

ISIS has executed 3,895 people, more than half of them civilians, since announcing the establishment of a “caliphate state” in June 2014, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. Of the 2,114 civilians killed, 78 were children and 116 were women, the SORH said in a press release. Civilians were killed by firing squad, beheaded, stoned, thrown off high buildings or burned, SOHR said. The other people executed included fighters for the Syrian regime, militiamen loyal to the regime and rebel groups like al-Qaeda in Levant.

U.S. airstrikes on a remote region of Afghanistan have destroyed a radio station operated by the Islamic State group, American and Afghan officials said on Tuesday. “Voice of the Caliphate” radio operated by Islamic State near the border with Pakistan was destroyed in U.S. two airstrikes. The Islamic State group has emerged in Afghanistan in the past year, with a military presence in districts near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The radio station was spreading the group’s extremist message, issuing threats to journalists in the provincial capital Jalalabad and attempting to recruit young men to its cause.

Syria

Supported by Russian air strikes, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s military forces appeared to close in on the opposition-held city of Aleppo on Friday, the country’s state-backed news agency SANA said. The offensive into rebel territory by government troops has sent thousands of Syrians fleeing toward the border with Turkey and is threatening to unleash a new humanitarian disaster in a five-year-old conflict that has already led to the deaths of over 250,000 people. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said up to 70,000 Syrian refugees were headed to Turkey as Assad’s regime seeks to wrest control of key towns in northern Syria away from opposition groups. Some of these groups have United States backing and some of them are fighting each other as well as Assad.

Germany

Police arrested two suspected Islamic extremists on Thursday as part of a series of raids across Germany as the city of Cologne began a five-day carnival amid heightened security following robberies and sexual assaults on New Year’s Eve that targeted hundreds of women. The raids took place in Berlin, at refugee centers in Hanover and in Attendorn, a town about 50 miles from Cologne. Two Algerian suspects were detained. Cologne has drafted in an extra 2,500 police officers and spent an additional $450,000 to boost security across the region during its week-long carnival that has been celebrated for several hundred years. Prosecutors have received 1,037 criminal complaints over the New Year events, including 446 allegations of sexual assault, three of them rape. Criminal proceedings have begun against 50 people. Most of the suspects are refugees from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.

Iran

A senior advisor to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced on Thursday that his country had signed contracts worth nearly $40 billion with Russia to build nuclear power plants, railroads and other infrastructure. He added that Teheran and Moscow are also in talks to expand trade, particularly in oil and weapons. In related news, Iranian Army chief declared on Thursday that his forces already had missiles capable of annihilating Israel and that there were plans to continue building the arsenal. “Iran’s missile capability and its missile program will become stronger,” General Ataollah Salehi boasted, according to the semi-official Fars news agency. “We do not pay attention and do not implement resolutions against Iran, and this is not a violation of the nuclear deal. Our missile program is not a threat against our friends but it is a threat against our enemies. Israel should understand what it means.”

Kenya

In a pre-dawn raid on a predominantly Christian area in coastal Kenya on Sunday (Jan. 31), Islamic extremist Al Shabaab rebels killed at least four Christians, beheading one of them, area sources said. “This is the third time the area has been attacked, and we have lost several Christians,” a survivor said. The rebels, who are fighting government and regional forces in Somalia, regard the northern coastal area of Kenya as Islamic territory. Al Shabaab, linked with Al Qaeda, took responsibility for the attack in a call to news organization Al Jazeera.

Mali

Militants attacked a sparsely manned U.N. police base in the Malian city of Timbuktu on Friday morning, sparking a fight in which Malian and U.N. peacekeeping forces eventually retook the center, a United Nations representative in the West African nation said. An unknown number of militants started the assault by driving up to the base — a former hotel now used as an operating center for U.N. police officers — and detonating a vehicle at an entrance Friday morning. Only several police officers were inside at the time. Malian and U.N. peacekeeping forces responded and eventually retook the base. Mali has been wracked by violence in recent years, including an insurgency by Islamist and ethnic Tuareg groups that prompted French forces to intervene in the country in 2013. The United Nations established its peacekeeping mission in Mali that year.

Zimbabwe

Famine is imminent in Zimbabwe as a massive drought throughout the region takes its natural course. In Zimbabwe’s worst affected areas, hunger is already beginning to bite and children are too weak to attend school. Some 70% of Zimbabwe’s population live off their own crops, but this year the rivers are dry, the crops have wilted, and animals are dying in large numbers. The drought is affecting the south of the country worst, where just half an inch of rain has fallen since October (the beginning of summer, which is usually the wettest season). This is well below the expected 12 inches.

Weather

Winter Storm Kayla forced the closure of at least two interstates Tuesday morning due to whiteout conditions from its heavy snow and gusty winds. More than 100 miles of Interstate 80 were closed Tuesday in Nebraska due to the nearly impossible driving conditions. To the south, I-70 was also closed in parts of Colorado and Kansas. The storm also had impacts on air travel. At Denver International Airport, dozens of flights were canceled Tuesday morning, a day after more than 500 flights were canceled at the hub. A snow emergency has been declared for Omaha and several nearby communities. Heavy snow and extremely strong winds greeted New Mexicans on Monday morning. Wind gusts as high as 95 mph were reported in southern parts of the state, while areas of northern New Mexico picked up as much as 16 inches of new snowfall.

Severe weather on the warm side of Winter Storm Kayla moved into the South and Ohio Valley Tuesday, where at least 12 tornadoes were spawned. The twisters damaged dozens of homes and other structures, but so far, no deaths have been reported in the areas hit by severe weather Tuesday night. At least nine reports of tornadoes occurred in parts of Mississippi and Alabama Tuesday. Winter Storm Lexi began delivering a quick-hitting band of snow from the coastal mid-Atlantic into southern and eastern New England Friday, causing early morning travel issues for commuters. School districts in Massachusetts announced they would be closed Friday due to the snow.

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