Signs of the Times (2/8/16)

David Daleiden Refuses Plea Deal, Demands Apology

The man behind the videos exposing Planned Parenthood has no interest in a plea deal for probation for the bogus charges filed against him. Instead, he wants an apology from the District Attorney behind the baseless charges. A Texas grand jury indicted David Daleiden and another pro-life activist, Sandra Merritt, behind the videos. Instead of prosecuting Planned Parenthood for selling aborted baby parts, Daleiden was indicted for buying them. Daleiden and Merritt were charged with one felony related to tampering with a governmental record and a misdemeanor count related to buying human tissue. The felony charge was in reference to the use of a fake ID. If convicted, Daleiden faces 20 years in prison while Planned Parenthood officials face no legal consequences for their actions.

  • The justice system has by-and-large been taken over by liberal socialists who will do anything to advance their agenda and destroy those in opposition. Isn’t freedom great?

New Hampshire Legislators Vote Down 2 Bills to Protect Unborn Babies

Two pro-life bills were voted down this week in New Hampshire. Life News reports a bill that would require doctors to care for babies born alive after botched abortions was defeated in a vote 9-7. The second bill to be voted down would have banned dismemberment abortions in the state. The procedure involves doctors using tools to removing limbs from babies to remove them from the womb. Pro-life legislators argued that the abortion procedure was violent and should be illegal. The bill lost in a narrow 9-8 vote.

Lack of Women in Corporate Leadership Roles Worldwide

There’s a stunning lack of women in corporate leadership roles across the globe says a new report by the Peterson Institute for International Economics. The report says that nearly a third of the companies studied had no women whatsoever on their boards or in any ‘C-Suite’ (CEO, CFE, etc.) jobs. 60% had no female board members. More than 95% did not have a female CEO. The report found that companies where women accounted for at least 30% of their executives typically had higher profits than those that had less female representation in top manager roles. The 10 countries with the most gender-diverse corporations — including Norway, Latvia, Finland and Sweden — offered 11 times more paternity leave than the bottom 10 countries (Australia, Pakistan, Canada and Japan, among others).

Migrant Update

Anti-immigration and anti-Muslim groups from across Europe demonstrated Saturday as migrants continued to flee from a renewed offensive by the Syrian government, with tens of thousands massing along Turkey’s border. Turkey refuses to open the border. It already hosts over 2.5 million Syrian refugees. In Dresden, a stronghold of Germany’s Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident, or PEGIDA, thousands took part in a rally to express disapproval with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s policy toward migrants. More than a million asylum-seekers are now living in Europe’s wealthiest country, with more arriving each day. Protests were held in more than a dozen other nations in Europe on Saturday including the Czech Republic, France, Poland and the Netherlands. Riot police clashed with protesters at several of the rallies including in Calais, France, where police used tear gas to disperse crowds.

Up to 33 people drowned Monday trying to reach Greece from Turkey as German Chancellor Angela Merkel held talks in Ankara with Turkey’s leadership over how to reduce the influx of migrants headed to Europe. Merkel said she would renew pressure on the United Nations to not let lapse a U.N. resolution calling for all sides in Syria’s five-year-old conflict to halt attacks on civilians. The International Organization for Migration says 374 refugees and other migrants have died so far this year while trying to reach Greece by crossing the Aegean Sea. The IOM says 3,770 people died making similar journeys in the Mediterranean last year.

Zika Update

More than 3,100 pregnant women in Colombia are infected with Zika, but the country reports no cases yet of the rare birth defect microcephaly, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said Saturday. Santos confirmed more than 25,000 people were infected with the virus overall in the country, the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo reported. “We are projected to reach 600,000 cases before the epidemic reaches its ceiling,” he added. An analysis of Zika cases found a 66% increase of Guillain-Barre, a rare nerve disorder linked to the virus, but none of microcephaly, a defect in which babies are born with abnormally small skulls, Santos said. Health officials said three people in the country died from Guillain-Barre after contracting Zika. President Barack Obama is asking Congress Monday for more than $1.8 billion in emergency funding to help fight the Zika virus.

No Cheers for Low Unemployment Rate

The U.S. unemployment rate just fell below 5% for the first time since 2008. Normally, this would merit a celebration. But these aren’t normal times. People as diverse as Democrat Bernie Sanders and Republican Donald Trump claim the “real” unemployment rate is much higher. The core problem is that only 62.7% of adult Americans are working. The so-called Labor Force Participation rate hasn’t been this low since the late 1970s. The rate measures how many people over age 16 are working or actively seeking work. Back in the ’70s, it was low because fewer women worked outside the home. That’s not the story today. Now, three factors are driving the decrease in workers. The first is that a huge part of the adult population, Baby Boomers, are retiring. The second is more young people are going to college and graduate school. But the third one is alarming: some people have just given up on finding work. It’s hard to quantify how many people fall into this dropout category, but it’s large enough to matter. The Wall Street Journal estimates that about 2.6 million of the roughly 92 million American adults who don’t work want a job but aren’t looking for one anymore.

Economic News- Domestic

A disappointing jobs report sent stocks skidding Friday with the Nasdaq composite index falling to its lowest level in more than 15 months. The Dow Jones industrial average, which had patched together two straight days of gains, was down 211.61 points, or 1.3%. For the week, the Nasdaq posted a more than 5% loss. The Dow dropped about 1.6%. The Nasdaq is now 16.4% below its record close last year, creeping ever closer to a 20% slide that would qualify as a bear market. The Nasdaq index is heavily weighted with high-tech companies. The 462 information technology stocks in the broad Russell 3000 index have shred a total of $529 billion this year with an average decline of 14%. The stock market’s terrible start to 2016 just got worse with the Dow dropping 300 points on Monday morning as oil prices slipped again.

Financial markets are trapped in a “death spiral,” according to analysts at Citigroup. The bank’s research team described a “negative feedback loop” in the global economy and across financial markets. It is fueled by strong dollar, lower commodity prices, weak trade and declining growth in emerging markets. The four forces are interconnected and present central banks with the difficult task of fighting deflation and staving off another global downturn, the bank said in a report, released Friday. If the loop continues, Citi warns, the world could slip into “significant and synchronized” global recession. The bank even invented a new term for its doomsday scenario: “oilmageddon.”

One of America’s oldest stock exchanges has just been sold to China. The 134-year-old Chicago Stock Exchange reached a deal on Friday to be acquired by a Chinese-led group of investors. The purchase by Chongqing Casin Enterprise Group is the latest U.S. investment made by China and would give the country a foothold in the vast American stock market. The struggling Chicago Stock Exchange is a very small player in the exchange world. As of January, the Chicago Stock Exchange handled just 0.5% of U.S. trading, making it the third-smallest U.S. exchange.

Economic News – International

China’s foreign-exchange reserves fell to the lowest level in more than three years in January, raising questions about how long Beijing can keep burning through the rainy-day funds to defend the yuan without triggering a flight of capital to other countries.

Global currencies are crashing left and right. Russia’s ruble and Mexico’s peso recently hit all-time lows against the dollar. The currencies of Colombia, Argentina and Brazil are all down 28% or more in the past 12 months. Turkey and South Africa have also fallen by double digits over that time. Weak currencies are often a sign of an economic slowdown. China posted its worst growth last year in a quarter century, and Brazil is in its longest recession since the 1930s. American travelers going to weak-currency countries, from Brazil to South Africa to Indonesia, are getting more for their dollar. A strong dollar is also good news for box stores because importing, has become a lot cheaper.

Argentina and a group of American hedge funds may soon end a 15-year battle. Negotiating through a mediator, Argentina has offered to pay six hedge funds that own the country’s debt a total of $6.5 billion of the $9 billion it owes. The hedge funds are referred to as “vultures” in Latin America because they buy bonds extremely cheaply, sue the countries for full repayment and often make a big profit once they’re paid.

India has once again posted growth of more than 7%, securing its standing as the world’s fastest growing major economy. Official data released Monday showed GDP grew at an annual rate of 7.3% in last three months of 2015, a tad weaker than the previous quarter. The country’s manufacturing sector is booming, and the Indian government is forecasting GDP growth of 7.6% for the current financial year ending March 31.

Islamic State

Twitter has suspended 125,000 accounts connected to the Islamic State over the past six months, the company said Friday. Twitter has been heavily criticized for not more effectively policing the presence of the extremist group. Pressure has heated up from the Obama administration and presidential candidates in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris and in San Bernardino County. The Islamic State — also known as ISIL or ISIS — use popular Internet services such as Twitter and Facebook to spread propaganda and to attract and train new recruits. The extremist group has used Twitter to celebrate terrorist attacks and publicize executions. Twitter says it does not permit tweets that promote terrorism or make violent threats. It relies on users to alert the company about violations to its policies. But ISIS is quick to create dozens of back up accounts easily including false information.

Syria

The Obama administration has found itself increasingly backed into a corner by Russian bombing in Syria that its diplomacy has so far appeared powerless to stop. Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Friday that he has been in continuous contact with the Russians and that the next few days will determine “whether or not people are serious” about a cease-fire, humanitarian access to areas besieged by fighting and the revival of peace talks suspended last week. Earlier this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said publicly that his government saw no reason to stop the airstrikes, which Russia says are targeting “terrorist” groups, including those fighting with the Syrian opposition against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Korea

Hours after North Korea fired a long-range missile Sunday over Japanese airspace, a senior South Korean official said that Seoul and Washington have agreed to begin talks on the possible deployment of a missile defense system in South Korea. Seoul and Washington will discuss deploying the THAAD missile system in response to North Korea’s “provocation,” CNN reported. THAAD is an acronym for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense. “The Republic of Korea and the U.S. assesses that North Korea’s nuclear test and its long-range missile test is a severe threat against peace and stability of Republic of Korea and Asia Pacific Region,” said Yoo Jeh Seung, head of defense planning for South Korean Defense Ministry. The launch is widely believed to be a test of a new missile system that could reach as far as the United States, and comes only weeks after North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear weapons test. Both are banned by U.N. resolutions. A South Korean naval vessel fired five shots as a warning to a North Korean patrol boat that briefly moved south of the countries’ disputed boundary line in the Yellow Sea, Seoul’s defense ministry said Monday.

Haiti

President Michel Martelly made his farewell speech to Haiti as he departed office Sunday with no successor yet chosen because a runoff election was scrapped last month amid violent protests and deep suspicions about vote rigging. Martelly, who took office in May 2011, is departing on what was scheduled as the first day of Port-au-Prince’s annual three-day Carnival celebration. However, authorities called off Sunday’s festivities because of a tense atmosphere amid the political uncertainty. Lawmakers are beginning a process to patch together a short-term interim government to smooth political divisions and fill the void left by Martelly’s departure. Prime Minister Evans Paul remains in office for now, awaiting a provisional president to be chosen by Parliament in the coming days. With quarrelling factions again throwing Haiti into an electoral and constitutional crisis, a last-minute deal was forged by Martelly and lawmakers less than 24 hours before his scheduled departure from office. The deal announced Saturday says an interim government will rule until an elected leader can take office May 14. The twice postponed presidential and legislative runoff is rescheduled for April 24.

Earthquakes

At least 32 people have died and more than 100 are still missing after a damaging magnitude-6.4 earthquake struck southern Taiwan early Saturday morning local time, causing several buildings to collapse. Nearly 300 survivors have been pulled out of the rubble. Firefighters and soldiers scrambled with ladders, cranes and other equipment to a residential high-rise complex that folded like an accordion in a pile of rubble and twisted metal and extracted dazed survivors. Taiwan’s emergency management information center told the Associated Press that nine of the deceased were found at the ruins of the fallen building. It said 475 people were injured, with 368 of them discharged from hospitals by Saturday evening. The Taiwanese government has ordered an investigation into the collapse of a high-rise building, as images emerged showing tin cans built into the walls of the toppled complex. The cans appear to have been used as construction fillers in beams.

Sink Holes

Sink hole incidents are occurring much more frequently of late around the world. Giant holes are opening up all over the earth and swallowing homes, buildings, roads and sometimes even people. According to ABC News, insurance claims related to sinkholes more than doubled between 2006 and 2009. There are dozens of sinkholes that have opened up in Harrisburg, Pennsylvia, and the city is so broke that it doesn’t have the money to fix all of them, according to inforwars.com. In the U.S., a sinkhole recently formed in Ohio that was the size of four football fields and that was more than 30 feet deep. It caused part of State Route 516 to collapse and authorities were projecting that the road would continue to stay closed for months to come. The giant Louisiana sinkhole in Assumption Parish that made headlines all over the nation last year is now more than 800 feet in diameter. It just continues to grow, and authorities have no idea when it will stop growing. More recently, large sinkholes forced roads to close in New Jersey and in Arizona, where one person died this past Friday. A sinkhole that appeared in the middle of Guatemala City in 2010 was about 30 stories deep. Down in Sarisarinama, Venezuela some sinkholes have appeared in recent years that are more than 1,000 feet wide. China has been one of the worst areas of the world for sinkholes over the past several years. Over 20 sinkholes have opened up in the ground since last September in the village of Lianyuan in southern China’s Hunan Province, swallowing houses and drying up rivers.

  • Authorities have blamed collapsing mines for some of the sinkholes, but for most sinkholes there has been no explanation.

Volcanoes

Ten major volcanoes have erupted along the Ring of Fire during the past few months, and the mainstream media in the United States has been strangely silent, reports RedFlagNews.com. These include eruptions of some volcanoes that have been dormant for decades. It is not unusual for two or three volcanoes along the Ring of Fire to be active at the same time, but what we are witnessing right now is highly unusual. Approximately 90 percent of all earthquakes and approximately 80 percent of all volcanic eruptions occur along the Ring of Fire, and it runs directly along the west coast of the United States. The Ring of Fire is a horseshoe area lining the coasts of the Pacific Ocean, from New Zealand, the Philippines and Japan along the western Pacific through Alaska, California, Central America and South America along the eastern Pacific.

Weather

A low-pressure system driving southeastward from Canada, known as an “Alberta clipper,” will bring strong winds and blizzard conditions to portions of the northern Plains and Upper Midwest through early Monday, despite producing only modest snowfall. Blizzard warnings have been issued Sunday by the National Weather Service from parts of the eastern Dakotas into western/southern Minnesota and Iowa, while high wind warnings and advisories are posted from eastern Montana into the Dakotas and Nebraska. A sharp, southward plunge in the jet stream early in the new week ahead will bring much colder arctic air from the Upper Midwest to the Gulf Coast and East. Portions of the East will see more snow to start this week and will continue to impact New England through early Tuesday.

In parts of southeast Massachusetts, blizzard conditions are possible along with tree damage and some power outages. Children in Boston were enjoying a four-day weekend after schools were closed yet again on Monday morning. Air travel was also hindered by the imminent storm. At Boston Logan International Airport, more than 125 flights were canceled Monday morning Winter storm watches have also been posted by the National Weather Service in the mid-Atlantic, including Baltimore and Philadelphia.

One of the world’s newest and biggest cruise ships on Sunday was caught in a storm so powerful that the captain ordered passengers confined to their cabins for safety. Royal Caribbean’s 168,666-ton Anthem of the Seas experienced “extreme wind and sea conditions” that were not expected as it was sailing south from the New York area to Port Canaveral, Florida. Passengers tweeting from Anthem describe hurricane-force winds and giant waves that rocked the vessel, overturning furniture, smashing glassware and collapsing part of a ceiling in a public corridor. Royal Caribbean said there had been no reports of serious injuries, and the damage to public areas and cabins “in no way affect the sea worthiness of the ship.” Anthem is carrying 4,529 passengers and 1,616 crew.

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