Signs of the Times (6/6/16)

Washington State to Teach Kindergartners about Transgenderism

Starting in the fall of 2017, public schools in Washington state will begin teaching students as young as kindergartners about transgenderism. The Daily Caller reports that the state recently made changes to their health education learning standards, revising them to include instruction about gender expression. A part of the sexual health curriculum titled “Self-Identify” will begin in kindergarten where students will be taught to “Understand there are many ways to express gender.” Students will be taught that gender expression is subjective to individual preference and is not restricted to biology. By the time they reach third grade under the new curriculum, students will be expected to “Explain that gender roles can vary considerably.”

  • This is so sick and illogical, let alone ungodly, that it underscores the irrational delusions of end-time immorality

Smuggling Network Guides Illegals from Middle East Terror Hotbeds into U.S.

A smuggling network has managed to sneak illegal immigrants from Middle Eastern terrorism hotbeds straight to the doorstep of the U.S., including helping one Afghan who authorities say was part of an attack plot in North America. Immigration officials have identified at least a dozen Middle Eastern men smuggled into the Western Hemisphere by a Brazilian-based network that connected them with Mexicans who guided them to the U.S. border, according to internal government documents reviewed by The Washington Times. Those smuggled included Palestinians, Pakistanis and the Afghan man who Homeland Security officials said had family ties to the Taliban and was “involved in a plot to conduct an attack in the U.S. and/or Canada.” He is now in custody. Some of the men handled by the smuggling network were nabbed before they reached the U.S., but others made it into the country. The Afghan man was part of a group of six from “special-interest countries.” The group, guided by two Mexicans employed by the smuggling network, crawled under the border fence in Arizona late last year and made it about 15 miles north before being detected by border surveillance.

GOP Lawmakers Want Answers on Deleted State Department Briefing Video

Top Republican lawmakers are demanding answers after the State Department admitted an official intentionally deleted several minutes of footage from a press briefing dealing with sensitive questions on the Iran nuclear deal. The department has not identified who actually ordered the deletion. “In tampering with this video, the Bureau of Public Affairs has undermined its mission to ‘communicate timely and accurate information with the goal of furthering U.S. foreign policy,’” Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., said in a letter to Inspector General Steve Linick. “This is all the more troubling given that the video in question dealt with hugely consequential nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic of Iran.” At issue is footage from a 2013 briefing where then-State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki appeared to acknowledge misleading the press over the Iran nuclear deal. Fox News later discovered the Psaki exchange was missing from the department’s official website and its YouTube channel. Eight minutes from the briefing, including the comments on the Iran deal, were edited out.

VFW Fires Back at Obama’s Denigration

The nation’s largest veterans group hit back at President Obama on Thursday and urged him not to “denigrate” their intelligence after the president suggested their members were easily swayed by cable news and “right-wing radio.” The Veterans of Foreign Wars called out the president after Obama referenced the political opinions at “VFW halls” in an Indiana speech Wednesday that toggled between campaign politics and the economy. “I don’t know how many VFW Posts the president has ever visited, but our near 1.7 million members are a direct reflection of America,” VFW National Commander John A. Biedrzycki Jr. said in a statement. “We don’t have confused politics, we don’t need left or rightwing media filters telling us how to think or vote, and we don’t need any President of the United States lecturing us about how we are individually [affected] by the economy. Our nation was created and continues to exist solely because of the men and women who wear the uniform,” he said. “Let’s not denigrate their service, their sacrifice or their intelligence.”

San Jose Protesters Attack Trump Supporters with Punches, Eggs

Protesters attacked Donald Trump supporters on the sidelines of a San Jose rally Thursday night, in a raucous scene where a dozen or more people were punched and at least one woman was pelted with an egg and another had her ear bloodied. Protesters also reportedly grabbed Trump hats from supporters and set the hats on fire on the ground. Police eventually moved into the crowd to break it up and make arrests. At least four people were taken into custody.

  • Liberal left-wing protesters at Trump rallies have been vile and violent even as Trump’s supporters have remained peaceful. And they say that Trump is the one stirring up fear and strife? Some protesters have admitted to being paid to protest.

Fentanyl, the Powerful Drug that Killed Prince, a Growing Threat

Fentanyl, a powerful painkiller that a medical examiner identified as the drug that killed the superstar Prince six weeks ago, has been responsible for an epidemic of overdose deaths around the United States, according to federal officials. The most potent narcotic known, it is a man-made opioid 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times more so than morphine, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control website. The agency says illegally manufactured non-pharmaceutical fentanyl, and related overdoses, are a rising problem. Overdose deaths from synthetic opioids jumped by 80 percent in 2014 over the previous year, the CDC said. In Ohio, fentanyl overdoses jumped to 514 in 2014 from 92 a year earlier.

Getting a Tattoo Similar to Undergoing a Satanic Ritual says Ex-Witch

A former self-confessed witch said getting tattoos is very similar to undergoing a Satanic ritual. On her blog entitled “The Other Side of Darkness,” the ex-witch named Beth revealed that the act of getting a tattoo has similarities with occult blood rituals, where a person enters into a covenant with the devil. “A blood ritual is a Satanic ritual that is done as a covenant or pact. There are at least two people involved in this type of ritual. The person who is shedding their own blood, and the person who is invoking a demon and its power,” the former witch said on her blog post, as quoted by Charisma News. Beth said that the wounds opened during a Satanic ritual and when getting a tattoo become the devil’s entry point into a person’s body. “The person who is shedding their blood is the recipient in this transaction. They are giving their blood (life) in order to receive some sort of benefit, such as life, prosperity, fame, fortune or power. The cuts are now an open doorway for the entrance of evil spirits… By agreeing to and participating in the shedding of your blood, you have (given) the devil a right to you.”

Chicago: Where Gunfire Has Become the Terrifying Norm

In Chicago over the Memorial Day weekend, 64 people were shot in this city of 2.7 million, six of them fatally. In a population made up of nearly equal numbers of whites, blacks and Hispanics, 52 of the shooting victims are black, 11 Hispanic and one white. Eight are women, the rest men. Some 12 people are shot in cars, 11 along city sidewalks, and at least four on home porches. It is a level of violence that has become the terrifying norm, particularly in predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods on the South and West Sides. With far fewer residents, Chicago has more homicides than Los Angeles or New York, reports the New York Times. The result? The new logic of one Chicago mother in the South Side neighborhood: She is glad her own son is in jail, because the alternative is unbearable. “He was bound to be shot this summer,” she says.

Migrant Update

More than 100 bodies believed to be migrants from capsized boats washed up on a Libyan beach, while hundreds of others are missing in a separate sinking off Greece, officials said Friday. The bodies of 117 people were recovered from a beach near Zwara, Libya, by Libyan Red Crescent volunteers. The dead included 75 women, 36 men and six children. Meanwhile, a boat carrying around 700 migrants capsized 75 nautical miles off the Greek island of Crete, prompting a major rescue operation for hundreds still missing. So far, 340 people have been rescued, and nine bodies recovered as of Saturday morning. Some 25,000 refugees and migrants, mostly from Syria, have descended on the Aegean island of Lesbos so far this year, — a massive increase that has piled pressure on debt-ridden Greece

Economic News

The labor market slowed dramatically in May as employers added 38,000 jobs, raising concerns that a sluggish economy is taking a bigger toll on employment and lowering the odds of a Federal Reserve rate hike this month. The weak employment gains were the smallest in 5 1/2 years. Also discouraging: Job growth for March and April was revised down by a total 59,000. March’s tally was revised to 186,000 from 208,000, and April’s, to 123,000 from 160,000. The unemployment rate fell from 5% to 4.7%, lowest since November 2007 the Labor Department said Friday, but that was because nearly 500,000 Americans stopped working or looking for jobs.

After a sluggish winter, U.S. consumer spending rose 1% in April compared to March, the best gain since August 2009, according to Commerce Department data released Tuesday. The latest spending figures confirm an ongoing trend: Americans are buying big ticket items like refrigerators, roofs, cars and televisions. Spending on those pricey goods rose 2.2% in April, and cars accounted for the majority of the increase. Consumer spending makes up the majority of U.S. economic activity. The closely-followed University of Michigan’s consumer spending index also shot up to nearly 95% in May from 89% in April.

Here we go again. Credit card issuers are pushing cashback and 0% credit cards, opening up doors for the subprime borrower and offering bigger lines of credit when possible. The number of new credit card accounts jumped to 80.3 million — up 16.3% from a year earlier, according to the American Bankers Association’s latest Credit Card Market Monitor. New accounts are being driven, in part, by a 26% increase year-over-year in new subprime accounts, which bankers say still remain below prerecession levels.

The 40-year ban on exporting U.S. crude was lifted last December. Since then, there’s been a sevenfold increase in America’s oil exports to destinations other than Canada, which was excluded from the ban. The frenzy of export activity, while still relatively small, is the only bright spot in the depressed environment in the oil industry these days. Not only is the U.S. pumping less oil, but there remains a lingering glut of oil around that world that earlier this year caused crude to crash to 13-year lows.

OPEC isn’t going to stop flooding the market with oil any time soon. The oil cartel wrapped up its summit in Vienna on Thursday by deciding not to change its output policy. The meeting discussed a proposal by Saudi Arabia to implement a cartel-wide production quota range aimed at restoring a sense of unity to the fractured group. However OPEC members failed to agree on the proposal. OPEC believes its strategy of all-out production is working by reducing output from other global oil producers.

It appears that big auto companies are no longer immune to the sluggish U.S. economy. Most major car makers reported decreased sales in May. Sales fell at GM, Ford, Toyota and Honda. Fiat Chrysler was the only major auto company to buck the trend, extending the company’s impressive sales growth streak to 74 consecutive months. Still, sales were up only 1.1% though, led mainly by strong demand for its Jeep brand. The auto industry has, up until recently, been a bright spot for the U.S. economy. Sales hit a record last year, thanks to robust demand for trucks and SUVs as gas prices remained low. But the slowdown in May is a troubling sign — especially now that gasoline prices have surged in the past few months.

Persecution Watch

Chinese authorities continue to intensify their crackdown on churches, recently forbidding a church to hold services and requiring its members to register with the government. As many as 1,700 churches in China have been demolished by authorities in the past two years and many Christians have been targeted by government officials. Some have even been beaten and jailed. Christian charity China Aid warns that China’s Communist Party aims to wipe out Christianity from the country. The Chinese government wants to replace “Christ as the head of the church with submission to the Communist Party,” said the ministry. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom also recognized China’s increased persecution of Christians, stating that the Chinese government has “stepped up its persecution of religious groups deemed a threat to the state’s supremacy and maintenance of a ‘socialist society.”

Two months after the Obama administration called out militant terror group Islamic State (ISIS) for committing genocide against Christians in Iraq and Syria, refugee data show those finding a safe haven in the United States are not the ones suffering the most persecution. State Department figures show 499 Syrian refugees have resettled in America this month, but not a single one was a Christian or member of another religious minority group targeted for genocide, according to CNSNews reports. Of the 2,705 Syrian refugees who came to the United States this fiscal year, 97 percent are Sunni Muslims. Only 12 identified with a form of Christianity. Tempers flared during a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing on May 26 as lawmakers noted the disproportionate numbers. Some compared the crisis in Iraq and Syria to Jewish persecution during the holocaust.

Islamic State

Coalition warplanes bombed ISIS command centers and tunnel networks Friday in Falluja, Iraq, killing dozens of militants, the Iraqi Joint Operation Command said, as the fight intensifies to retake the strategic city. militants had been meeting in southern Falluja at the time of the airstrikes, including a newly appointed ISIS military leader known as the “Emir of the Falluja State.” Iraqi army forces have encircled Falluja and are expected to storm this city west of Baghdad soon. Falluja became the first Iraqi city to fall to ISIS in January 2014. An estimated 50,000 residents are trapped in the city between opposing fighters, including 20,000 children. ISIS is shooting civilians attempting to leave Falluja, a European non-profit operating in Iraq says.

Syrian troops reached the edge of the northern province of Raqqa on Saturday, home to the de facto capital of the Islamic State group’s self-styled caliphate, in a push that leaves the extremists fighting fierce battles on four fronts in Syria and neighboring Iraq. The Syrian government has had no presence in Raqqa since August 2014, when ISIS captured the Tabqa air base and killed scores of government soldiers. The provincial capital, Raqqa, became the militants’ first captured city. ISIS, which controls large swaths of territory in both countries, is fighting Syrian troops, U.S.-backed fighters and opposition militants in northern Syria and while also facing the offensive by Iraqi government forces on their stronghold of Fallujah.

The U.S. Navy has opened up another front against the Islamic State group, this time launching jets from the USS Truman carrier strike group in the Mediterranean loaded with bombs to drop on Iraq and Syria. The carrier’s air wing flew multiple sorties on Friday. The trip through the Mediterranean is the carrier’s latest leg on a seven-month deployment — recently extended by a month — that included 1,407 sorties and 1,110 missiles launched. The Truman, which is accompanied by the cruiser Anzio and the destroyers Bulkeley, Gonzalez and Graveley, is operating in the Mediterranean to support strikes against Islamic Stat.

Jordan

Five people were killed in an attack apparently targeting Jordanian intelligence officers at a refugee camp near Amman on Monday. No group immediately claimed responsibility, the Associated Press reported. Jordan’s Queen Rania Al-Abdullah said on Twitter that the attack was a “vile terrorist act.” Jordan is a member of the United States-led coalition fighting the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. The incident came on the first day of Ramadan, a month of fasting from sunrise to sunset observed by Muslims worldwide.

Afghanistan

Taliban gunmen stormed a court building in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday, killing seven people, including a newly appointed chief prosecutor, the latest in a series of insurgent attacks on judicial employees. The attack began as the prosecutor, Akram Nejat, was addressing a ceremony to introduce him in his new position. A statement from the interior ministry said 21 others, including six police officers, were wounded in the attack on the courthouse in Puli Alim, the provincial capital. The three attackers were shot dead by Afghan security forces. The Taliban have increasingly targeted the judiciary since the government executed six convicted insurgents last month. The executions signaled a tougher approach to the Taliban after two years of failed government efforts to revive peace talks.

Philippines

The Philippine president-elect has encouraged the public to help him in his war against crime, urging citizens with guns to shoot and kill drug dealers and fight back in their neighborhoods. “Please feel free to call us, the police, or do it yourself if you have the gun — you have my support,” Duterte said, warning of an extensive illegal drug trade that involves even the country’s police. If a drug dealer resists arrest or refuses to be brought to a police station and threatens a citizen with a gun or a knife, “you can kill him,” Duterte said. “Shoot him and I’ll give you a medal.” The 71-year-old Duterte won the May 9 presidential election on a bold promise to end crime and corruption within six months of his presidency. That vow resonated among crime-weary Filipinos, though police officials considered it campaign rhetoric that was impossible to accomplish. Duterte has been suspected of playing a role in many killings of suspected criminals in his city by motorcycle-riding assassins known as the “Davao death squads,” but human rights watchdogs say he has not been criminally charged because nobody has dared to testify against him in court.

Venezuela

In almost any other country, going food shopping is an afterthought. You head to the market, buy food then head home. But in Venezuela, where the economy is on the brink of collapse, food shopping has become a dangerous adventure. There’s an hours-long wait to enter the supermarkets. Shelves are empty. Meat and chicken, and even diapers, are nowhere to be found. People are so desperate for food that fights break out in the aisles. There were more than 70 cases of looting or looting attempts in May, most of them in supermarkets, according to the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict. Bicentenario Supermarket, the state-run grocery store chain that began operating in 2010. The chain used to operate 32 stores around the country, but now 10 of those supermarkets are closed, some in the country’s biggest cities, including Caracas, Maracaibo and Valencia.

Brazil

The Olympic Games arrive in Brazil at a time when the country is ravaged by crises. With two months to go until the cauldron is lit in Rio de Janeiro, the host of South America’s first Games is grappling with a public health emergency, a governmental meltdown and economic woes. Despite the spread of the Zika virus throughout the region, as well as President Dilma Rousseff standing down amid corruption allegations and Brazil’s worst recession in over two decades, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) insist the show will go on.

Wildfires

A car crash that downed power lines northwest of Los Angeles set the hills on fire, forcing thousands from their homes and putting entire neighborhoods at risk in the prosperous semi-rural enclave of Calabasas. The blaze grew to 200 acres in a matter of hours and has now burned over 500 acres as of Sunday morning. Fifty-foot-high flames erupted on the ridges and embers turned trees into candles Saturday afternoon. And while the flames eased overnight, firefighters continued Sunday to battle the blaze. Some 3,000 homes were threatened and about 5,000 residents were evacuated. The fire flared as Southern California sweltered under temperatures that hit the mid-90s in many places.

Firefighters are also battling a series of brush fires throughout Southern California this weekend. A brush fire that broke out in Temecula has doubled in size to 70 acres and forced the southbound I-15 freeway to close. Another brush fire broke out in Jurupa Valley, a city roughly 50 miles north of Temecula. Several more wildfires broke out in the region Saturday due to the hot, dry conditions. The Juniper Wildfire burning in the Tonto National Forest once again caused the Arizona Department of Transportation to close a 13-mile stretch of State Route 288 on Saturday. At almost 18,000 acres, it was 20 percent contained Saturday.

More acreage has been burned by wildfires so far this year than in the last ten years. A total of 1,583,590 acres have been consumed versus just 410,990 last year, not including the massive wildfire in Fort McMurray, Canada. There are currently ten wildfires burning, with five of them in Arizona where intense heat, low humidity and strong winds have led to fire warnings across all of central and southern Arizona.

Weather

A high of 113 degrees Friday broke the previous daily record in Phoenix. Another record high temperature of 115 degrees was set at Phoenix on Saturday and 113 on Sunday. Record highs were also recorded in Las Vegas (109), Needles, CA (118) and Bullhead City, AZ (119). An excessive-heat warning that went into effect Friday morning has been extended until 8 p.m. Monday for all the southwest. Tropical Storm Colin has strengthened in the Gulf of Mexico and will bring the threat of heavy rain to parts of Florida and the Southeast Monday and Tuesday. Three people have been killed in floodwaters from a strong storm that pounded Australia’s east coast over the weekend.

A new round of severe thunderstorms drenched southeast Texas on Thursday morning, closing schools and forcing Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to declared a state of disaster across 31 counties. At least two dozen streets were closed, including a stretch of Interstate 35 in San Antonio early Thursday. Heavy rain was falling at a rate of up to 3 inches per hour. A flood wave was expected to move down the Medina River from swollen Medina Lake Thursday morning, potentially impacting property near Castroville, Texas, about 25 miles west-southwest of downtown San Antonio. Nine Fort Hood soldiers are dead after floodwaters overturned their army truck n Owl Creek during a morning training exercise on the sprawling Central Texas army post. Elsewhere, tornadoes caused damage in the Lone Star State and Kansas, where twisters had been spotted for three consecutive days. Since spring 2015, parts of the South have received over 100 inches of rain over the 15-month timeframe.

Torrential rains across France and Germany left at least 16 people dead, drove thousands from their homes. Flooding has killed at least 5 people in Germany and prompted evacuations across Europe as slow-moving storm system dumped rain across the continent. The system intense and record-breaking rainfall. Sections of northeast France (near the border with Belgium) received six full weeks of rain in just a 24-hour period during the multi-day event. Flooding got dramatically worse on Wednesday, with the whole center of Triftern, a town of just over 5,000 people on the Austrian border, flooded by the Altbach river. The Louvre Museum in Paris closed its doors to visitors Friday to focus on removing art from areas threatened by the rising Seine River. An 86-year-old woman died in her flooded home in Souppes-sur-Loing, southeast of Paris. A total of 10 people have been killed by the flooding across Europe.

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