Signs of the Times (1/17/17)

Inauguration Chaos Planned in D.C. & Mexico

The stage is set for a potentially very ugly confrontation between radical leftist protesters on one side and law enforcement authorities and Trump supporters on the other side.  It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of Trump supporters will be arriving in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the inauguration. But it is also estimated that hundreds of thousands of people will be coming to D.C. to specifically protest Trump’s inauguration.  These protesters plan to set up blockades, disrupt inaugural balls and generally cause as much chaos as they possibly can.  In fact, a spokesperson for #DisruptJ20 says that the goal of his organization is for Trump to be inaugurated “amid complete chaos.”

Islamic terrorists and drug cartels in Mexico are planning attacks against U.S.-Mexico border ports around Inauguration Day, according to a report by the Washington watchdog group Judicial Watch. Jihadist and cartel groups reportedly attacked near the site of a new U.S. Consulate last week in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, which is located directly across the border from Laredo, Texas. A deadly shootout took place last week at the construction site of a new $155 million U.S. Consulate building, which is scheduled to be completed in September. A local newspaper in Tamaulipas reported that 13 people died during the shootout. The attacks are part of an effort to send incoming President Donald Trump a message about who is in control, the report states. Trump “is causing a huge amount of fear in Mexico throughout all sectors; private, government, business, criminal, police,” the report says.

Trump’s Pre-Inauguration Approval Rating Drops to Lowest in Decades

When President-elect Donald Trump takes the oath of office Friday, he’ll be the most unpopular man to do so in decades, two new polls showed. A majority of Americans — 54% — have an unfavorable opinion of the incoming president, a Tuesday Washington Post/ABC News poll showed. A second survey, conducted by CNN and ORC, reported that 52% of people do not approve of the way the President-elect has been handling the transition. In each poll, just 40% of respondents said they view Trump and his transition team favorably. Trump was quick to dismiss the polls. “The same people who did the phony election polls, and were so wrong, are now doing approval rating polls,” he tweeted Tuesday morning.

Historic Calvary Baptist Church Hires Lesbian Couple as Pastors

Calvary Baptist Church, a progressive Baptist landmark in the heart of downtown Washington, has named a gay couple as co-pastors. Sally Sarratt and Maria Swearingen were presented to the congregation during worship services Sunday, January 8, and are set to begin their new jobs on February 26. The 155-year-old church severed ties with the Southern Baptist Convention in 2012. It found itself at loggerheads with the group on several issues, including the SBC’s stance against homosexuality. Sarratt and Swearingen come to Calvary from Greenville, South Carolina, where Sarratt has been serving as associate chaplain for behavioral health in the Greenville Health System and Swearingen as associate chaplain at Furman University, according to a news release from the church. Sarratt has also been filling the role of part-time associate minister at Greenville Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

Thousands of Middle-East Muslims Turning to Christ

Thousands of Muslims are turning to Jesus Christ and what they view as the “religion of freedom” amid ongoing bloodshed in the Middle East, reports the Christian Post. Churches in the area believe that millions of people will accept Christ amid a “spiritual hunger” that is forming in the wake of persecution. “There are thousands upon thousands coming to Christ,” VOMC revealed. “We are in regular contact with our FM stations in Iraq and have talked with many people who have family in the Middle East. Some of our Middle Eastern broadcasters have shared testimonies [about many turning to Christ] with us, which they hear directly from listeners when visiting there.” In Iran, Christian house churches are regularly targeted and shut down by the nation’s Islamic government. Despite this persecution, mission group Elam Ministries revealed that Christians have been growing in terms of numbers, and today estimates suggest there are 360,000 believers in Iran – up from only 500 in 1979. “Church leaders believe that millions can be added to the church in the next few years — such is the spiritual hunger that exists and the disillusionment with the Islamic regime,” Elam Ministries stated.

  • Persecution always backfires because that’s when disillusioned people are most likely to receive Christ

Middle-East Peace Conference Calls for Two-State Solution

The Mideast peace conference in Paris closed Sunday, calling for Israel and the Palestinians to embrace a two-state solution as the only route to peace, despite Israel’s Prime Minister branding the conference “useless.” The conference, which was attended by representatives from some 70 countries, began Sunday with the aim of bringing both sides to the negotiating table and maintaining support for a two-state solution. “They emphasized the importance for the parties to restate their commitment to this solution, to take urgent steps in order to reverse the current negative trends on the ground, including continued acts of violence and ongoing settlement activity,” the closing statement from the conference read. Any two-state solution should satisfy both sides, the statement said. That includes recognizing Palestinians’ sovereignty and their right to statehood, as well as Israel’s security needs, while ending “the occupation that began in 1967” and resolving all “permanent status issues” based on UN Security Council resolutions.

  • The two-state solution calls for the division of Jerusalem which was Israel’s capital since the first temple was constructed in 967 BC, almost 800 years before Mohammed established Islam.

Israel Scores a Diplomatic Victory in Brussels

Monday’s meeting of 28 EU foreign ministers in Brussels ended without adopting either UN Security Council Resolution 2334 or the declaration that emerged from the Paris conference on Sunday, handing Israel another diplomatic victory ahead of Tuesday’s meeting of the UN Security Council meant to discuss developments in the Middle East. Monday’s meeting included a frantic effort by France to have the results of the Paris meeting endorsed, which were reportedly rejected by the UK and some Eastern European governments.

U.S./Russian Relations Improving

Russia has invited the incoming Trump administration to Syrian peace talks it is sponsoring later this month with Turkey and Iran, part of a process from which the Obama administration pointedly has been excluded. U.S. participation, especially if an agreement is reached, would be the first indication of the enhanced U.S.-Russia cooperation that President Vladi­mir Putin and President-elect Donald Trump have promised under a Trump administration. A spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that the United States would attend the talks to be held in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. The talks are tentatively scheduled to begin Jan. 23, three days after Trump’s inauguration. Syrian government and opposition representatives are also expected to attend. Trump also said he will offer to end sanctions against Russia in return for a nuclear arms reduction deal with Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin, The Times reported.

European Leaders Shocked as Trump Slams NATO and E.U.

European leaders said Monday that they may have to stand alone without the United States once Donald Trump enters office, raising the prospect of an unprecedented breach in transatlantic relations after Trump’s comments that the European Union is bound for a breakup and that NATO is obsolete. Trump said in a weekend interview with the Times of London and Germany’s Bild newspaper that the 28-nation European Union was a vehicle for German interests and said that he was indifferent to the bloc’s fate. He also said he was committed to European defense even as he expressed skepticism about NATO’s current configuration. Trump’s attitudes have alarmed Europe, which is facing a wave of elections this year in which anti-immigrant, Euroskeptic leaders could gain in power. Trump’s hard line has created the grim realization in Europe that they may now have to stand alone, without their oldest, strongest partner.

Most Expensive/Capable Fighter Jets Sent to Japan

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the most expensive and one of the most controversial weapons systems in U.S. history, is on its way to Japan to be “the cornerstone” of U.S. defense in the Pacific. The first of 16 US Marine Corps F-35Bs left Arizona Monday on the initial overseas deployment for the stealth jets. The planes are heading for Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, not far from Hiroshima, on the Japanese main island of Honshu. Sending the $104 million jets to Iwakuni shows Washington’s “commitment to the defense of Japan with the most capable and modern equipment in the U.S. inventory,” said a U.S. military spokesperson. “It will be the cornerstone of a multi-mission joint force possessing improved mission flexibility and unprecedented effectiveness to engage and destroy both air and ground threats.”

U.S. Transfers 10 Guantanamo Prisoners to Oman

Oman said Monday it accepted 10 inmates from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay ahead of President Barack Obama leaving office, part of his efforts to shrink the facility he promised to close. Oman’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by the state-run Oman News Agency that it had accepted the prisoners at Obama’s request. The sultanate of Oman, on the eastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula, previously accepted 10 Guantanamo prisoners from Yemen in January 2016 and another six in June 2015. Meanwhile, Oman’s neighbor Saudi Arabia took four prisoners on Jan. 5 and the United Arab Emirates took 15 prisoners in the largest-single transfer during Obama’s administration last Aug. 15.

  • Recent experience shows that some of these will return to their terrorist ways

Trump, House Republicans May Butt Heads on Tax Plan

President-elect Donald Trump said Friday that one of the key parts of the House Republicans’ corporate-tax plan that would tax imports and exempt exports was “too complicated.” The border adjustment tax plan is one of the most controversial parts of the House Republicans’ tax plan. The measure is reportedly part of a broader plan to encourage companies to locate jobs and production in the U.S. Under current law, the United States taxes the profits of U.S.-based companies, even if the money is made overseas. However, taxes on foreign income are deferred until a company either reinvests the profits in the U.S. or distributes them to shareholders. Critics say the system encourages U.S.-based corporations to invest profits overseas or, more dramatically, to shift operations and jobs abroad to avoid U.S. taxes. House Republicans want to scrap America’s worldwide tax system and replace it with a tax that is based on where a firm’s products are consumed, rather than where they are produced.

Obama Releases NSA Cache of Private Data

A new door for government agencies to share “raw information” about citizens has been opened by a rules change made by President Obama, according to a report in WND editor Joseph Farah’s G2 Report. The change was made in a document called “Procedures for the Availability or Dissemination of Raw Signals Intelligence Information by the National Security Agency under Section 2.3 of Executive Order 12333.” “President Barack Obama’s administration just finalized rules to make it easier for the nation’s intelligence agencies to share unfiltered information about innocent people,” explains the Electronic Frontier Foundation, one of multiple privacy organizations expressing concern about the change. The organization noted that the rules “will let the NSA – which collects information under that authority with little oversight, transparency, or concern for privacy – share the raw streams of communications it intercepts directly with agencies including the FBI, the DEA, and the Department of Homeland Security.”

Trump Vows ‘Insurance for Everybody’ in Obamacare Replacement

President-elect Donald Trump said in a weekend interview that he is nearing completion of a plan to replace President Obama’s signature health-care law with the goal of “insurance for everybody,” while also vowing to force drug companies to negotiate directly with the government for Medicare and Medicaid prices. Trump’s plan is likely to face questions from the right, after years of GOP opposition to further expansion of government involvement in the health-care system, and from those on the left, who see his ideas as disruptive to changes brought by the Affordable Care Act that have extended coverage to tens of millions of Americans. In addition to his replacement plan for the ACA, also known as Obamacare, Trump said he will target pharmaceutical companies over drug prices. “They’re politically protected, but not anymore,” he said of pharmaceutical companies.

The Clinton Global Initiative Organization Shutting Down

After Donald J. Trump devastated the once formidable Clinton political machine in November, the Clinton Global Initiative, is being shut down. The CGI was the centerpiece initiative of the Clinton Foundation, the former first couple’s political and financial power structure. The initiative became unsustainable after Hillary Clinton’s defeat, as foreign governments began reducing or even withdrawing their donations. The Australian government, for example, ended a decade of funding the organization, and the government of Norway reduced its contribution by more than $15 million. The abandonment of CGI soon after the Clintons lost political power will only further accusations the foundation was the hub of a “pay-to-play” network of influence peddling that existed to personally enrich Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton, notes WorldNet Daily.

Economic News

Eight men now control as much wealth as the world’s poorest 3.6 billion people, according to a new report from Oxfam International. The men — Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Carlos Slim, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Amancio Ortega, Larry Ellison and Michael Bloomberg — are collectively worth $426 billion, the anti-poverty group said on Sunday. The Oxfam report also said that the richest 1% own more wealth than the remaining 99% worldwide. In the U.S., the richest 1% control 42% of the wealth.

The release of Oxfam’s annual inequality report coincides with the World Economic Forum in Davos. The annual meeting in the Swiss mountain resort brings together political and financial leaders and some of the wealthiest people in the world. Protesters in Davos said the rich elites need to “get out of their bubble.”

  • These elites are who really control the world, regardless of whether Obama, Hillary or Trump lead the U.S.

Under attack from President-elect Donald Trump for its investment in Mexican plants, General Motors announced plans Tuesday to invest at least $1 billion in U.S. factories, a move it said will create or retain at least 1,000 jobs. The investment has been in the works for some time and it is not part of any deal with Trump, a GM spokesman said. But the company joins a number of major employers eager to demonstrate a commitment to U.S. jobs ahead of Friday’s inauguration.

Walmart, which employs more workers than any other American business, plans to add 10,000 U.S. jobs this year. The job growth will represent less than 1% of the company’s current American workforce of about 1.5 million people. But it bucks the trend of major brick-and-mortar retailers, which have been slashing jobs and closing stores. Walmart announced a year ago it would close 269 underperforming stores, including 154, employing 10,000 workers, in the United States. Amazon announced last week it would add 100,000 U.S. jobs.

It takes an average of 12 years to recoup the cost of getting a Bachelor’s degree, according to a new report from The College Board. College grads with a full-time job earned a median of 67% more than high school grads last year. That doesn’t include those who went on to receive an advanced degree. The unemployment rate for 25-34 year-olds with a Bachelor’s degree was 2.6% last year, more than five percentage points below the unemployment rate for those with just a high school education.

Islamic State

ISIS has destroyed all five bridges crossing the Tigris River in Mosul, an attempt to slow the advance of Iraqi troops toward the western side of the city, according to the commander of Iraqi Forces in Nineveh province. The bridges had already been damaged in airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition in recent weeks. ISIS taking out bridges ahead of Iraqi troop advances before, but Iraqi forces built temporary or floating bridges, causing troops to slow down but not to stop. Iraqi forces captured the Mosque of the Prophet Younis, or Jonah, after driving Islamic State group militants from a new neighborhood in eastern Mosul, a spokesman said on Tuesday, and the U.N. said that nearly 150,000 people have been displaced since the operation started in mid-October.

United Kingdom

In a speech meant to clarify Britain’s relations with its European neighbors, Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday charted a defined course toward a clean break with the European Union, calling for the country to abandon the single market after more than four decades of integration with the EU. Mrs. May emphasized Britain’s determination to regain control of migration and rejected the supremacy of the European Court of Justice, even at the risk of losing unfettered access to the single market. She also said she wanted to procure tariff-free trade with the bloc and to keep parts of its customs union. The long-awaited speech represents a shift for Mrs. May, who had dropped heavy hints about her thinking but had refused to outline publicly how it should be done After months of stressing that there was no “divide” over Britain’s membership in the EU, she explicitly ruled out staying a member, arguing that it was necessary for Britain to control its borders and set all of its laws. British voters supported a withdrawal from the EU in a June referendum.

Ukraine

Ukraine has filed a case against Russia at the United Nations’ highest court, accusing Moscow of illegally annexing Crimea and illicitly funding separatist rebel groups in eastern Ukraine. Kiev also is seeking compensation for deadly incidents including the 2014 shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. In the case announced Tuesday by the International Court of Justice, Ukraine accused Moscow of “intervening militarily in Ukraine, financing acts of terrorism, and violating the human rights of millions of Ukraine’s citizens.” Kiev further alleged that Moscow’s takeover of Crimea “brazenly defied the U.N. Charter, seizing a part of Ukraine’s sovereign territory by military force.” Fighting between Ukrainian government troops and Russia-backed separatists has killed more than 9,600 people in eastern Ukraine since it began in 2014. No date was immediately announced for hearings in the case, which is likely to take many months to complete.

Cuba

President Barack Obama is ending the longstanding “wet foot, dry foot” policy that allows Cubans who arrive in the United States without a visa to become permanent residents, the administration announced last week. The move, which wasn’t previously outlined and is likely one of the final foreign policy decisions of Obama’s term, terminates a decades-long policy that many argued amounted to preferential treatment for a single group of migrants. “By taking this step, we are treating Cuban migrants the same way we treat migrants from other countries,” Obama said in a statement. Following a mass exodus of Cubans to the United States, former President Bill Clinton in the mid-1990s changed the “open door” policy on Cuban refugees — first established by President Lyndon B. Johnson — to the “wet, foot, dry foot” policy that repatriated Cubans intercepted at sea but allowed those who reach land to stay.

Environment

Coal emissions in Southeast Asia are projected to triple by 2030, resulting in an increase in pollution-related deaths, according to a new Harvard-backed report published Friday. Researchers at Harvard and Greenpeace say the demand for electricity in Southeast Asia is projected to increase by a staggering 83% between 2011 and 2035 — twice the global average. in Southeast Asia — unlike in the US, Europe, China or India — these demands are still likely to be met by coal-fired power plants rather than renewable energy. The report estimates that approximately 20,000 people in the region die every year from coal-fired power station emissions, and it projects this number will increase to 70,000 by 2030 if all the proposed power plant projects in the region go ahead.

Weather

Deadly ice spread across the Plains and Midwest Sunday, threatening to cripple the entire region of the country for days. During its trek eastward, Winter Storm Jupiter has killed at least six, spreading freezing rain and ice that created dangerous road conditions from Oklahoma and Kansas to mid-Missouri and southern Illinois. Multiple states declared emergencies. Sections of I-80 were closed in both directions in Nebraska. Freezing rain contributed to many accidents across Kansas Friday and Saturday. Ice as thick as one inch downed tree limbs all over Oklahoma Sunday, Fairbury, Nebraska, saw up to three quarters of an inch of ice, resulting in broken tree limbs and power outages. Ice and snow continued to impact a swath of the Great Lakes region on Tuesday and will continue spreading across areas of the interior Northeast and New England into Wednesday.

While much of the lower 48 states enjoy a January thaw this week, Alaska is experiencing some of its coldest air of this winter season. This follows a record-warm 2016 for the nation’s 49th state, where some locations even shattered average. On Sunday, Fairbanks saw a low temperature of minus 38 degrees, making it the coldest reading there since February 2015. Monday and Tuesday, parts of western Alaska were in the minus 40s. Highs for much of this week will only reach the 20s, 30s and 40s below zero over the state’s interior.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: