Signs of the Times

­Past Issues of Signs of the Times Available at lofj.wordpress.com

May the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. (1Peter 5:10)

China Plans to Rewrite the Bible

China recently announced a five-year plan to rewrite the Chinese Bible with the goal of bringing it in line with socialist ideals. They are also looking to incorporate Buddhist and Confucian teachings. There are also plans under consideration that would rewrite commentaries and hymnals, reports Crosswalk. The Chinese Communist government has already removed thousands of crosses from churches and ordered the churches to erect pictures of Chairman Mao and Chairman Xi [Jinping], as persecution in China continues to increase.

  • For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. (Matthew 5:18)

Kavanaugh Sworn In as Supreme Court Justice

The Senate confirmed Brett M. Kavanaugh as the 114th Supreme Court justice on Saturday by one of the narrowest margins in history amid mass protests, ending a vitriolic battle over his nomination and solidifying a conservative majority on the court. As a throng of angry demonstrators stood on the steps of the Capitol, the Senate voted to approve Kavanaugh’s nomination by a 50 to 48 margin in what will certainly be one of President ’s most enduring legacies: two Supreme Court justices in two years. The brutal confirmation fight is likely to have far-reaching implications in next month’s midterm elections. Republicans are confronting an electrified Democratic base led by women infuriated by the treatment of Christine Blasey Ford. Yet Republicans say the battle to get Kavanaugh confirmed — in the face of Democratic opposition and ugly “mob” of anti-Kavanaugh demonstrators — only motivated a fractured GOP electorate on a singularly unifying issue for conservatives — the federal judiciary.

Are False Reports of Sexual Assault Rare?

The assertion from forces against Brett M. Kavanaugh that false allegations of rape or attempted rape are extremely rare is rebutted by a number of studies, researchers say. Liberals on TV and social media said repeatedly during the Senate confirmation process that only 2 percent of charges are lies. Brent E. Turvey, a criminologist, wrote a 2017 book that dispels this notion. His research, and that of two co-authors, cited statistical studies and police crime reports. One academic study showed that as many as 40 percent of sexual assault charges are false. The Pentagon issues an annual report on sexual assaults in the military. Nearly one-quarter of all cases last year were thrown out for lack of evidence, according to a report released in May. Mr. Turvey wrote that the FBI in the 1990s pegged the falsity rate at 8 percent for rape or attempted rape complaints. Mr. Turvey, who directs the Forensic Criminology Institute, says the 2% figure “is not only inaccurate, but also it has no basis in reality. Reporting it publicly as a valid frequency rate with any empirical basis is either scientifically negligent or fraudulent.”

Justice Department Indicts 7 Russian Spies in Hacking Plot

Seven Russian GRU intelligence officers were charged with hacking computers associated with 250 athletes and anti-doping sports organizations in the U.S. and around the world, Justice Department officials announced Thursday. The criminal activity described in the 41-page indictment came in Russian retaliation for people and organizations who revealed Russia’s doping program for its athletes — revelations that led to stripping dozens of Olympic medals from Russian athletes. The hacking that began in December 2014 and continued until at least May 2018 intruded into computers and networks of U.S. citizens and corporations, and international corporations and their workers around the world, officials say. The conspiracy aimed at publicizing stolen information as part of an influence and disinformation campaign designed to undermine and retaliate against the efforts of international anti-doping organizations and officials who had publicly exposed a Russian state-sponsored athlete doping program and to damage the reputations of athletes around the world by falsely claiming that such athletes were using banned or performance-enhancing drugs.

UN Climate Group Says Changes Required by 2030

Governments around the world must take “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” to avoid disastrous levels of global warming, says a stark new report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The report issued Monday says the planet will reach the crucial threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by as early as 2030, precipitating the risk of extreme drought, wildfires, floods and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people. The planet is already two-thirds of the way there, with global temperatures having warmed about 1 degree C. Global net emissions of carbon dioxide would need to fall by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach “net zero” around 2050 in order to keep the warming around 1.5 degrees C, the IPCC asserts.

  • Whether global warming is manmade or not, it is a key indicator that the end-times are ramping up (Daniel 9:26b, Ezekiel 38:22, Revelation 8:7, 11:19, 16:8,11)

Anti-Vaccine Japan Has World’s Lowest Child Death Rate

Japan has the lowest infant mortality rate following its ban on mandatory vaccinations, and they urge other countries to follow this firm stance, writes Amanda-Mary Jewell at FreedomsPhoenix.com. The citizens of Japan are statistically proven to be the healthiest and longest-living people in the world. The country also has the lowest infant mortality rate on the planet. The Japanese Government banned a number of vaccines that are currently mandatory in the United States and has strict regulations in place for other Big Pharma drugs and vaccines in general. The Japanese banned the use of multi-shot vaccinations such as the MMR vaccine (the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine), following a record number of children developing adverse reactions, including meningitis, loss of limbs, and even sudden death. “Despite the fact that it has been blamed in vaccine courts for causing autism, vaccine supporters still deny the correlation between the MMR vaccination and skyrocketing rates of autism spectrum disorder, which now affects at least one in 45 children, with even higher rates of diagnosis among boys,” Jewell said.

International Monetary Fund Warns of Second Great Depression

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) stated last week that “large challenges loom for the global economy to prevent a second Great Depression.” At this moment, global debt levels are higher than they have ever been before in all of human history, and in their report the IMF specifically identified “global debt levels” as one of the key problems that could lead to “another financial meltdown.” The IMF warned, “The world economy is at risk of another financial meltdown, following the failure of governments and regulators to push through all the reforms needed to protect the system from reckless behavior. With global debt levels well above those at the time of the last crash in 2008, the risk remains that unregulated parts of the financial system could trigger a global panic. The extended period of ultralow interest rates in advanced economies has contributed to the build-up of financial vulnerabilities.”

Economic News

Unemployment fell to a nearly 50-year low in September even as employers added a disappointing 134,000 jobs amid increasing worker shortages and possible effects from Hurricane Florence. Professional and business services led the job gains with 54,000. Health care added 30,000; transportation and warehousing, 24,000; construction, 23,000; and manufacturing, 18,000. The unemployment rate fell from 3.9 percent to 3.7 percent, lowest since December 1969, the Labor Department said Friday. Average hourly earnings rose 8 cents to $27.24, lowering the annual gain to 2.8 percent from a nine-year high of 2.9 percent in August. The weaker-than- expected jobs total combined with the tick down in average wage growth allayed fears of spiking inflation and the need for the Fed to raise short-term interest rates more aggressively, money managers and economists said.

The yield on the US 10-year Treasury rose above 3.2% Thursday morning. That’s the highest it’s been since July 2011. On Wednesday, the 10-year yield gained more than on any day since the November 2016 presidential election. The 30-year yield also popped above 3.3%, its highest level since October 2014. Bond yields are rising because of America’s strength. Intent on keeping inflation in check, the Federal Reserve is gradually raising its target interest rate, making borrowing more expensive. That also increases the cost of paying back existing debt, which could slow spending — and the economy along with it.

Gas prices are creeping up nationally, now pennies a gallon away from their highest level since 2014, just in time for the November midterm elections when California will vote on rolling back its gas tax. Average prices topped $2.90 a gallon for unleaded Wednesday for the first time since June, having risen about 6 cents a gallon in the past month. If they rise by about another eight cents, they will be the highest in four years. In California, which is second only to Hawaii as the state with the highest fuel prices, voters will decide whether to repeal a tax that raises $5.1 billion a year for road and bridge repair and public transit. California taxes 95.5 cents on every gallon.

India’s currency resumed its headlong plunge on Friday, stoking concerns that the world’s fastest-growing major economy could be heading for a slowdown. The rupee crossed 74 rupees to the US dollar for the first time ever, after the country’s central bank surprised markets by holding off on raising interest rates. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) decided against hiking rates for the third time this year despite expectations that it would act to tame inflation caused by rising oil prices and the crashing currency, which makes imports more expensive. The Indian rupee has fallen around 15% against the surging dollar this year, making it one of the world’s worst performing currencies. India’s stock market has suffered along with the rupee. The country’s benchmark index, the Sensex, has dropped more than 8% in the past month.

Middle East

The city of Jerusalem will evict the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) in light of the organization’s illegal activities and incitement of Palestinians against Israel, according to Mayor Nir Barkat last Thursday. In a statement, Barkat said the new U.S. policy cutting $300 million to the controversial organization inspired the move, which will see unlicensed UNRWA-run schools, medical centers and sports facilities transferred to Israeli authorities. “The U.S. decision has created a rare opportunity to replace UNRWA’s services with services of the Jerusalem Municipality,” he said. “We are putting an end to the lie of the ‘Palestinian refugee problem’ and the attempts at creating a false sovereignty within a sovereignty.”

Despite the United States recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December and relocating its embassy from Tel Aviv in May, Americans born in Jerusalem are still unable to list “Jerusalem, Israel” on US. passports. A group of 55 House Republicans sent a letter to US President Donald Trump several weeks ago, urging him to instruct the State Department to permit American citizens born in Jerusalem to list Israel as their birth country on their passport. “The president has made clear that the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem remain subject to final-status negotiations between the [Israelis and the Palestinians],” a State Department spokesperson told JNS. “We have not changed our practice regarding place of birth on passports or Consular Reports of Birth Abroad at this time.”

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton put the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) official status into perspective at a Wednesday press briefing when he announced that the United States would no longer be a signatory party to the United Nations’ International Court of Justice (ICJ). “The president has decided that the United States will withdraw from the optional protocol and dispute resolution to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. This is in connection with a case brought by the so-called state of Palestine naming the United States as a defendant [in the ICJ], challenging our move of our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Bolton said. Palestine is “not a state now. It does not meet the customary international law test of statehood. It doesn’t control defined boundaries. It doesn’t fulfill the normal functions of government. There are a whole host of reasons why it’s not a state.”

A 23-year-old Palestinian terrorist from the nearby village of Shweika, near Tulkarem, handcuffed and shot two employees Sunday morning at the Barkan Industrial Park in Samaria at close range with a Carl Gustav assault rifle. President Reuven Rivlin issued a statement, saying, “This was not only an attack on innocent people going about their daily lives, it was also an attack on the possibility of Israelis and Palestinians co-existing peacefully,” The Barkan Industrial Park includes approximately 120 businesses and factories and a workforce of 20,000, half of them Palestinian Arabs. The terrorist was employed at one of the factories.

Iran

The Trump administration is giving greater priority to Iran and radical groups it backs in a new U.S. counterterrorism strategy document released last Thursday that further increases the pressure from Washington on Tehran. The strategy, unveiled by National Security Adviser John Bolton, is the first issued since 2011 when the Obama administration’s view of counterterrorism was focused almost exclusively on the threat posed by al Qaeda after the death of its founder, Osama bin Laden. The priority given to Iran this time around reflects President Trump’s drive to contain Iran’s influence in the Middle East, curtail its ballistic missile program and backing of extremist groups and force it to the negotiating table by re-imposing U.S. sanctions.

In response to an Iranian lawsuit against the US at a UN-sponsored International Court of Justice (ICJ) that cited a little-known “Treat of Amity” between the two countries, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Wednesday that the U.S. is pulling out of the treaty. Pompeo added that the decision was “39 years overdue” and accused Tehran of “abusing the ICJ for political and propaganda purposes.” while the clerical regime which rules Iran blasted the Trump Administration as an “outlaw regime.” ICJ President Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, said U.S. sanctions on goods “required for humanitarian needs…may have a serious detrimental impact on the health and lives of individuals on the territory of Iran.” The ruling ordered the US to rescind such sanctions, listing items to be removed from the sanctions as including spare parts, repair equipment and related services for the airline industry in Iran. However, multiple legal scholars have asserted that the UN court has no jurisdiction over matters of US national security.

Syria

Two Syrian rebel groups began withdrawing their heavy weapons Saturday from a northwestern area of the country where Russia and Turkey have agreed to set up a demilitarized zone, opposition activists said. Rami Abdurrahman of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Free Idlib Army and Failaq al-Sham started removing artillery and mortar pieces from areas close to the town of Maaret al-Numan. The Turkey-backed National Front for Liberation (NFL) rebel alliance said in a statement the process of withdrawing heavy weapons had begun, but the fighters would remain in their positions within the demilitarized zone to assist Turkish troops monitoring and patrolling the area.

Afghanistan

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack on an election rally in the Afghan province of Nangarhar last Tuesday, according to a statement on the group’s Amaq news agency. The militant group said a bomber had killed 35 and wounded more than 50 after detonating his suicide vest. Afghan officials earlier said at least 13 were killed and more than 30 wounded, warning the toll was likely to rise. The Islamic State has claimed a series of attacks this year that have killed scores of people in Nangarhar, on the border with Pakistan.

Saudi Arabia

The disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has sent a chilling message to dissidents abroad, stoking fears among activists of a broadening crackdown beyond the kingdom’s borders. Unnamed Turkish officials said Friday that Khashoggi, 58, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Activists say the reports about Khashoggi are the latest political “bombshell” in a series of moves to crush dissent under the leadership of 33-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. “The era of bin Salman is the era of surprises that are foreign to this country’s history. Based on what we know of his rule, it looks like the tragedies won’t stop,” Ali Adubisi, director of the Berlin-based European Saudi Organization for Human Rights, told CNN. Khashoggi, who was critical of bin Salman in opinion pieces for The Washington Post, entered the consulate last Tuesday to collect paperwork that would allow him to remarry. He has not yet re-emerged, according to his fiancée, his friends and his colleagues at The Washington Post.

Russia

Russia’s Vostok-18, the largest military exercise of the 21st Century, conducted Sept. 11-17, was little noted by the press who were fixated on now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s adolescent sex life. However, Russia’s new nuclear doctrine — similar to Khrushchev-era thinking, like Marshal Sokolovsky’s 1962 “Military Strategy” on steroids — relies on nuclear firepower and relatively small armies that are highly mobile and survivable, and able to knife through Europe in a week or two. Russia’s new generation nuclear weapons for strategic EMP attack and tactical battlefield use make this possible, noted Dr. Peter Pry, once the CIA’s top expert on Russia’s nuclear forces, in Newsmax.

India

After a year of fits and starts, India’s #MeToo movement has leapt forward over the past week, getting concrete action in two of the country’s most powerful industries: entertainment and the news media. Inspired by Ms. Dutta and Ms. Kukreja, as well as by the Senate testimony of Christine Blasey Ford in the United States, dozens of women in journalism began coming forward on Friday, describing a range of inappropriate behavior by male reporters and editors at some of India’s biggest news organizations. The flurry of activity has created a commotion among the educated elite here, but it has had little immediate effect on the vast majority of women in India, a deeply patriarchal and traditional society in which women and girls often have little control over their lives and are frequently abused.

Montenegro

People who don’t stand during Montenegro’s national anthem could be fined up to 2,000 euros ($2,290), according to new legislation proposed by the government. People who don’t stand during Montenegro’s national anthem could be fined up to 2,000 euros ($2,290), according to new legislation proposed by the government. The draft amendment was passed by the country’s Cabinet last week. People with disabilities would be exempt and allowed to pay their respects in “other ways” that have not been defined in the legislation. Montenegro is located along the Adriatic Sea to the west of Serbia.

Environment

The red tide bloom that’s been in the waters off Florida’s Gulf Coast for months is now choking the state’s Atlantic waters from Miami Beach to Palm Beach. Trey Claus, whose family has been fishing off southeastern Florida for three generations, has never seen anything like it — and neither has anyone he knows. “This might put a halt to our season, which is not a good thing,” Claus, 30, said. Should the red tide bloom settle in, mass fish kills will transpire. Some of Florida’s pristine, white sand beaches have been shuttered because of red tides, which are caused by algae found almost exclusively in the Gulf of Mexico. The natural phenomenon is deadly to marine life and can irritate people’s skin and lead to respiratory problems, especially for people with asthma.

Beachgoers in Beach Haven, New Jersey, were surprised to see blue, disc-shaped organisms with long, dark tentacles showing up on shore. After a closer look, locals found out they were jellyfish, but not like any they had seen before on Garden State beaches. They were identified as blue button jellyfish, a free-floating critter than measures about an inch across. The powerful winds from Hurricane Florence pushed the tropical jellyfish out of the Gulf Stream down near Florida up north.

Volcanoes

Less than a week after a devastating earthquake and tsunami, a volcano erupted Wednesday on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Mount Soputan is on the northern tip of the island, about 370 miles northeast of Palu, where more than 1,400 people were killed. The volcano spewed a column of ash nearly 20,000 feet into the sky. No evacuations were immediately ordered. A government volcanologist said it’s possible the eruption was accelerated by the magnitude 7.5 earthquake that struck last week.

Earthquakes

At least 12 people have died and 170 people were injured after a magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck off the northwestern tip of Haiti just after 8 p.m. local time Saturday evening. The quake’s center was located about 12 miles west-northwest of Ti Port-de-Paix, Haiti, and struck with a depth of about 7.3 miles. Homes were destroyed in Port-de-Paix, Gros Morne, Chansolme and Turtle Island. Rescue workers say part of a hospital and an auditorium collapsed. The quake was felt lightly in the capital, Port-au-Prince, as well as in the neighboring Dominican Republic. A 5.2 magnitude aftershock rattle Haiti on Sunday, raising fears of more deaths.

Weather

Heavy rains from Hurricane Michael forced hundreds of people from their homes in Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador, killing thirteen over the weekend as the intensifying storm continues its push towards the Gulf Coast. More than 260 homes were damaged in the southern part of Honduras. Some 6,000 people have been impacted by flooding and landslides. At least 18 people were rescued during the storm. Michael also brought heavy rains to Cuba on Monday. Winds increased to near 100 mph Tuesday morning. Michael is forecast to strengthen to a Category 3 prior to landfall Wednesday on the Florida Panhandle. Forecasters predict the hurricane will generate a life-threatening storm surge. On Sunday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency Sunday for 26 counties in the Panhandle and Big Bend coastal region of northern Florida. Alabama’s governor on Monday also issued a state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Michael as the storm draws closer in the Gulf of Mexico.

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