Archive for November, 2018

Signs of the Times

November 27, 2018

­Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper. (Psalm 1:1-3)

Science Shocker: Adam and Eve for Real

In a major shock to evolutionary science, a sweeping survey of the genetic code shows the human race sprang from a single adult couple. The research was led by the Rockefeller University and the University of Basel, Switzerland, and stunned all involved. “This conclusion is very surprising,” said David Thaler, research associate from the University of Basel. “And I fought against it as hard as I could.” While still holding to an old Earth with these modern humans dating back between 100,000 to 200,000 years, the timeframe is far more recent than previous claims in the evolutionary theory. Another surprise for the scientists, however, was that nine of every 10 animal species also come from a single pair of beings. Senior research associate Mark Stoeckle and Thaler, the two scientists who headed the study, concluded 90 percent of all animal species alive today come from parents that all began giving birth at roughly the same time, less than 250 thousand years ago — throwing into doubt the patterns of human evolution.

Abortions in the United States Hit New All-Time Low

The abortion rate in America continues to decline as the work of pro-life advocates empower more women to choose life for their unborn babies. A new report by the Centers for Disease Control showed abortions at an all-time low since 1973, the year when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade, according to the Washington Post. The report, released Nov. 21, recorded 638,169 abortions in 2015, a 2-percent drop from 2014. The abortion rate declined to 11.8 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age. That is a 26-percent decline since 2006, Newsmax reports. Among teenagers, the rate declined even more drastically – a full 54 percent since 2006, according to the CDC. Comparing racial demographics, the CDC found the highest abortion rate was among black women at 25.1 abortions per 1,000 and the lowest was among white women at 6.8 per 1,000. Age comparisons indicate women in their 20s had the highest abortion rate.

Chaos at Border as Migrants Storm Fence

As thousands of migrants from Central America wait in makeshift Tijuana shelters for a chance to apply for asylum in the U.S., a process that could take months, some have organized protests to pressure U.S. officials to devote more resources to speed up the process. On Sunday, one of those protests, peaceful at first, turned chaotic when several hundred migrants broke away, overwhelming Mexican federal police officers before rushing a border fence and attempting to illegally enter the U.S. In response, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers shut down both south and northbound traffic at the San Ysidro border crossing south of San Diego for nearly six hours. The closure disrupted one of the busiest border crossings in the world at the tail end of a holiday weekend when border crossings are typically packed with travelers. CBP officers fired tear gas after some migrants threw projectiles at them, U.S. officials said. Several CBP officers were hit by the projectiles. It was unclear whether any migrants were injured. President Trump threatened Monday to “close the Border permanently if need be” and called on Mexico to deport members of the migrant caravan after skirmishes broke out between border agents and migrants at the Southern border this weekend. The Mexican Interior Ministry said it would immediately deport about 500 Central American migrants who tried to “violently” breach the border with the U.S. just south of California and that it would reinforce the border.

  • Critics are hammering the Trump administration over using tear gas, but they are glossing over a similar episode that occurred under then-President Barack Obama. The same tear-gas agent that the Trump administration is taking heat for deploying against a border mob this weekend is actually used fairly frequently — including more than once a month during the later years of President Barack Obama’s administration, according to Homeland Security data. Border Patrol agents revealed in interviews that the migrants storming the U.S.-Mexico border over the weekend were using women and children as human shields as they launched rocks at agents.
  • San Diego Sector Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott pushed back on the narrative that his agents are tear gassing women and children. We ended up making about 42 arrests, only eight of those were females and there were only a few children involved. The vast majority of people we are dealing with are adult males,” Scott said. “Similar to what we saw with the first wave, the caravan that came up about a week or so ago, the group immediately started throwing rocks and debris at the agents. Taunting the agents. Once our agents were assaulted the numbers started growing. We had two or three agents at a time initially facing hundreds of people at a time. They deployed tear gas to protect themselves and to protect the border.”

Federal Report Say U.S. Impacts of Climate Change are Intensifying

A massive report issued by the Trump administration on Friday emphasizes the dire threat that human-caused global warming poses to the United States and its citizens. “Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities,” researchers say in the report, officially Volume II of the National Climate Assessment. The 1,600-page report details the climate and economic impacts U.S. residents will see if drastic action is not taken to address climate change. This is the fourth National Climate Assessment. It was mandated by Congress in the late 1980s and is prepared every four years by the nation’s top scientists from 13 agencies. Climate change threatens the health and well-being of the American people by causing increasing extreme weather, changes to air quality, the spread of new diseases by insects and pests and changes to the availability of food and water, the researchers say. President Donald Trump is rejecting a key conclusion of a dire report on the economic costs of climate change released Friday by his own administration saying, “I don’t believe it.”

  • The Bible says that end-time weather will become quite extreme (Daniel 9:26b, Ezekiel 38:22, Luke 21:25, Revelation 8:7, 11:19, 16:8,11)

UN Reports World Falling Woefully Short of Emissions Goals

According to a United Nations report released Tuesday, however, projected emissions of carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas, from nations around the world fall woefully short of the 2 degree Celsius goal set in the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015. In fact, the report states that the current emission targets for all countries would result in an average global temperature rise of 3.2 degrees Celsius (5.8 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100. The 2018 Emissions Gap Report is the flagship annual report from the UN Environment Program and acts as a report card on how countries are doing on their individual contributions to the Paris Climate Agreement. This year’s report shows the largest gap ever, resulting from increasing emissions and slow action to mitigate. According to Tuesday’s report, global emissions of CO2 in 2017 were 53.5 gigatons (a gigaton is 1 billion tons), the most ever released into the atmosphere, representing an increase of more than 1% over 2016 emissions. Global emissions need to be 25% lower than this figure by 2030 in order to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius and 55% lower in order to limit to 1.5 degrees, the report claims.

The Most Dangerous Place for a Woman is Her Home

More than half of all female homicide victims worldwide – 137 every day – were killed by a member of their own family last year, according to a new United Nations study. Research published by the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) found that of the approximately 87,000 women and girls intentionally killed in 2017, about 58 percent died at the hands of someone who was either an “intimate partner” or a relative. This amounts to six women being killed every hour by people they know, the report said. It was released Sunday to coincide with the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. In 2017, roughly 82 percent of victims of homicide perpetrated by intimate partners or family members were female – just 18 percent of  the victims were male.

The global average of 1.3 female homicide victims per 100,000 female population, has been stable for more than half a decade. However, there are regional variations. Africa and the Americas were the regions where women are most at risk of being killed by intimate partners or family members, the study found. In Africa, the rate was around 3.1 victims per 100,000 female population. In the Americas, it was 1.6 victims. The lowest rate was found in Europe, with 0.7 victims per 100,000 female population.

First Gene-Edited Babies Claimed in China

A Chinese researcher claims that he helped make the world’s first genetically edited babies – twin girls born this month whose DNA he said he altered with a powerful new tool capable of rewriting the very blueprint of life. If true, it would be a profound leap of science and ethics. A U.S. scientist said he took part in the work in China, but this kind of gene editing is banned in the United States because the DNA changes can pass to future generations and it risks harming other genes. Many mainstream scientists think it’s too unsafe to try, and some denounced the Chinese report as human experimentation. The researcher, He Jiankui of Shenzhen, said he altered embryos for seven couples during fertility treatments, with one pregnancy resulting thus far. He said his goal was not to cure or prevent an inherited disease, but to try to bestow a trait that few people naturally have – an ability to resist possible future infection with HIV, the AIDS virus.

CDC Confirms 116 Cases of Rare Polio-Like Illness

There have been 116 confirmed cases of acute flaccid myelitis, a polio-like illness in the U.S. this year, mostly affecting children, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The disease affects a person’s nervous system and cause weakness in their arms and legs. Cases of the disease have been found in 31 states, according to an update Monday from the CDC. More than 90 percent of patients affected by AFM are children, said the agency. In most cases, patients had a mild respiratory illness before developing the disease. Symptoms include drooping face and eyelids, difficulty moving eyes and swallowing, and slurred speech. In severe cases, patients may have trouble breathing because of muscle weakness. The CDC said it was setting up a task force to investigate what causes the disease and find better treatments for patients.

European Union Approves Brexit Deal with United Kingdom

In a bittersweet landmark, European Union leaders gathered Sunday to seal an agreement on Britain’s departure next year – the first time a member country will have left the 28-nation bloc. At a summit in Brussels, the leaders endorsed a withdrawal agreement that would settle Britain’s divorce bill, protect the rights of U.K. and EU citizens hit by Brexit and keep the Irish border open. They will also rubber-stamp a 26-page document laying out their aims for future relations after Britain leaves at midnight Brussels time on March 29. British Prime Minister Theresa May hailed the deal as the start of a new chapter for Britain, but European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the U.K.’s departure was a tragedy. The deal must still be ratified by the European Parliament, something parliament President Antonio Tajani said was likely in January. More dauntingly for May, it also needs approval from Britain’s Parliament. Large numbers of Parliament members on both sides of the debate oppose the divorce deal and threaten to vote it down when it comes to the House of Commons next month. Brexiteers think it will leave the U.K. tied too closely to EU rules, while pro-Europeans say it will erect new barriers between Britain and the bloc – its neighbor and biggest trading partner.

Economic News

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down about 2,400 points (over 9%) since early October, in part reflecting a fear that the Federal Reserve is hiking interest rates more aggressively than the economy can handle. The housing and auto industries, the frontline when it comes to borrowing costs, are already getting squeezed. It’s quite likely that the U.S. central bank will raise rates again in December, the fourth hike of 2018. But the bulls on Wall Street are hoping that Fed chief Jerome Powell signals a slower pace in 2019. The Fed could drop clues when it releases minutes from its November meeting this coming Thursday. The sharp decline in the market is also due to fears on Wall Street of a looming growth slowdown and the U.S.-China trade war.

U.S. oil prices plummeted 7% Friday and sank deeper into a bear market that has alarmed investors and made drivers around the world happy. The latest wave of selling knocked crude below $51 a barrel for the first time since October 2017. Anxiety about oversupply and diminished demand have sent crude down by a third since it soared to a four-year high above $76 a barrel in early October. Observers have gone from fearing $100 oil to expressing concern over why its price collapsed so quickly. Oil bulls are hoping OPEC and Russia come to the rescue by announcing steep production cuts at a meeting next month in Vienna.

At one time in the United States, being employed was enough to stay out of poverty. However, in many parts of the country, being employed is no longer enough to alleviate financial challenges. There were 7.6 million Americans in the labor force living in poverty in 2016. The economy has added millions of jobs since the recession ended, but many of these jobs are not the same as those that were lost. Nationwide, retail trade and the accommodation and food services industry added over one million jobs over the past three years, but individuals working in these industries are among the most likely to earn poverty wages.

General Motors is killing multiple passenger cars, including the Chevrolet Impala, Volt and Cruze. The move — part of a sweeping cost-cutting plan unveiled Monday — comes as Americans are abandoning passenger cars in favor of crossovers, SUVs and pickups. General Motors is poised to close factories in Michigan, Ohio, Maryland and Canada, kill off several passenger cars and slash 15 percent of its salaried workforce in a sweeping cost-cutting plan designed to boost its profits. The Detroit-based automaker said it would end production by the end of 2019 at its Lordstown Assembly plant in northeast Ohio; its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant in southeast Michigan; its Oshawa Assembly plant in Ontario; its Baltimore Operations parts plant; and its Warren Transmission Operations plant in southeast Michigan. GM has about 1,500 employees at the Detroit plant, 1,600 at the Lordstown factory and 2,500 in Oshawa. CEO Mary Barra is seeking to reposition GM for a future defined by self-driving cars, ride-sharing networks and electric vehicles. GM’s biggest employee union, the United Auto Workers, vowed to fight the plan.

Wisconsin is on track to lose more dairy farms this year than in any year since at least 2003, according to state Agriculture Department figures for dairy producer licenses. For many farmers, the price they’ve received for their milk hasn’t covered their expenses. Some have lost thousands of dollars a month, and there’s not much relief in sight as the marketplace is flooded with the commodity they produce. As of Nov. 1, the dairy state had lost 660 cow herds from a year earlier, and the number of herds was down nearly 49 percent from 15 years ago. However, the number of dairy cows in Wisconsin has remained steady even as the number of farms has fallen. That’s because the remaining dairy operations are, in many cases, much bigger. But even some of the bigger farms have not survived. For many farmers, it’s no longer a matter of how they’re going to endure a fourth year of financial hardship. Rather, it’s how they’re going to exit the business and get on with their lives.

Persecution Watch

Chick-fil-A fired back at a private New Jersey university that believes the restaurant doesn’t belong on the menu for students over its Christian values. Rider University asked students earlier this year what fast-food chain they would like to see on campus, circulating a survey in which students can select their preferred choice. But once it became clear students were craving Chick-fil-A, the university excluded the option, citing concerns over the company’s attitudes towards LGBTQ community. The chain pushed back against the university’s characterization, saying the restaurant is merely providing food and doesn’t have any agenda. “Chick-fil-A is a restaurant company focused on food, service and hospitality, and our restaurants and licensed locations on college campuses welcome everyone. We have no policy of discrimination against any group, and we do not have a political or social agenda,” the restaurant’s spokesperson told CBS News.

Iran’s ‘moderate’ President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday called Israel a “cancerous tumor” established by Western countries to advance their interests in the Middle East. Addressing an annual Islamic Unity Conference on Saturday, Rouhani went on to refer to Israel as a “fake regime” set up by Western countries. Rouhani said the United States cultivates close ties with “regional Muslim nations” to protect Israel, an apparent reference to Iran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia and the kingdom’s Sunni Arab allies. The two countries support opposite sides in the wars in Syria and Yemen. Iran supports terror groups like Hezbollah and Hamas that are pledged to Israel’s destruction, in addition to positioning Iranian troops in Syria close to Israel’s border.

After a family in southeast Kenya put their faith in Christ this month, Muslims gave them one day to return to Islam or be killed, the father said. “We were given a day to either recant the Christian faith or face the sword, as well as lose all the privileges the Muslims had given to us,” Abdul Abuk-Bakr of Sera village, Garsen, told Morning Star News. Abu-Bakr had suffered a serious illness for more than two months, visiting various hospitals without improving, when a pastor whose name and church are undisclosed visited him the evening of Nov. 3, Abu-Bakr said. The pastor prayed for Abu-Bakr in Jesus’ name, and the married father of two received instant healing. Given a day to return to Islam, on Nov. 6 the family sought refuge at the church site.

Israel

Security forces in Jerusalem and the West Bank were on high alert Monday afternoon following an apparent terrorist car ramming attack at the Gush Etzion junction just south of the capital wounded three soldiers. “One of the patrol soldiers fired and neutralized the terrorist. The soldiers were evacuated to receive medical treatment in a hospital,” the IDF statement said. The incident comes amidst a showdown between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in eastern Jerusalem. The Israel Police arrested 32 residents of eastern Jerusalem on Monday morning, suspected of serving in the Palestinian Authority security apparatus despite being Israeli residents and receiving, in several cases, welfare benefits from the government. Additionally, several of those arrested are suspected of involvement in PA plans to punish eastern Jerusalem residents who attempted to sell properties to Israeli Jews. Also on Sunday, the Israel Police arrested the Palestinian Authority Governor of Jerusalem, Adnan Geith, for his involvement in the plans.

Islamic State

Counter-attacks by the Islamic State group have killed at least 47 US-backed fighters over two days as the jihadists struck from their embattled holdout in eastern Syria, a war monitor said Saturday. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Kurdish-led alliance supported by a U.S.-led coalition is battling to expel the jihadists from a pocket in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor on the Iraqi border. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said the jihadists launched “three separate assaults” on Saturday. The monitor said the counter-attacks targeted the villages of Al-Bahra and Gharanij and an area close to the Al-Tanak oilfield, which is commercially active but is also an SDF military position. SDF spokesman Mustefa Bali confirmed “a series of attacks” led by ISIS in these three locations and said fighting had taken place all day, with the Kurdish-led ground forces receiving coalition air support. Militants launched an overnight attack against US-backed forces in eastern Syria for the second time in four days on Monday, according to activists.

Iran

Iran has not declared all its chemical weapons capabilities to the global chemical weapons agency in The Hague, in violation of an international non-proliferation convention, the U.S. ambassador to the organization said on Thursday. Ambassador Kenneth Ward told a meeting of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) that Iran had failed to report a production facility for the filling of aerial bombs and maintains a program to obtain banned toxic munitions. “The United States is also concerned that Iran is also pursuing central nervous system-acting chemicals for offensive purposes,” he said. Ward cited the discovery of chemical-filled artillery projectiles, mortars and aerial bombs of Iranian origin as proof that Iran did not fully disclose its capabilities.

Afghanistan

Three U.S. service members were killed and three more were wounded by an improvised explosive device Tuesday in Afghanistan, according to officials with the NATO mission to the country. One American contractor was also wounded when the IED detonated, officials said in a press release. The attack took place near Ghazni city, in the eastern Afghan province of the same name. Ghazni city, located 100 miles from Afghanistan’s capital city of Kabul, was also the site of an intense battle between U.S.-backed Afghan forces and the Taliban over the summer. According to the Defense Casualty Analysis System, 10 U.S. military members, not including these latest casualties, have been killed and 107 have been wounded in Afghanistan so far in 2018.

Ukraine

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko demanded Monday the immediate release of Ukrainian sailors and warships after they were attacked and seized by Russia in the Kerch Strait, a body of water between Russia’s mainland and Crimea, the peninsula that the Kremlin annexed from Ukraine in 2014. Poroshenko described the Russian attack as a “deliberate action,” involving the use of weapons against Ukrainian sailors, six of whom were wounded. According to a statement by Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the attack was carried out on three Ukrainian navy vessels as they were crossing from the Ukrainian port of Odessa on the Black Sea to the Ukrainian port of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov. The Kerch Strait connects the two seas. The Ukrainian foreign ministry said that the sea crossing was in accordance with multilateral and bilateral international treaties and navigational rules, while its Russian counterpart said in a statement that the Ukrainian naval ships were in “gross violation of the rules of peaceful passage” in Russia’s territorial waters in the Black Sea. Ukrainian lawmakers were set to consider a presidential request for the introduction of martial law in the country on Monday following the incident. Ukraine’s president demanded Monday that Russia immediately release Ukrainian sailors and vessels seized in the incident. The two neighbors have been locked in a tense tug-of-war since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, but the incident late Sunday pitted the two militaries against each other, placing them on the verge of open conflict.

China

China’s Orwellian social engineering dictatorship plans to micromanage every citizen in their country – all 1.4 billion of them. Beijing announced an “action plan” this week for monitoring residents’ behavior, adding that the city expects to have its social credit system fully implemented by the end of 2020. Beijing plans to reward and punish its residents based on data that will be collected from various departments monitoring citizens’ social behavior, according to the detailed “action plan” posted on Monday to the city’s municipal website. By the beginning of 2020, the announcement declares, China’s capital city will have all residents officially locked into the permanent surveillance program, part of a broader effort to have every Chinese citizen rated on a “social credit system” decreeing what public services a person can use based on their obedience to laws and loyalty to the communist regime.

  • China is evolving into the world’s first technocracy in which government policies and actions are data-driven.

Environment

The Southwest Florida coast may finally be getting a break from red tide. Water samples show far fewer areas with high concentrations of Karenia brevis, the organism that causes the blooms. Researchers say it has become patchy and typical of a seasonal bloom. “Patchy means animals are now able to move in and out of the red tide bloom,” said Tracy Fanara, an environmental scientist at Mote Marine Laboratory. Fanara said the bloom now resembles those that are normally seen from August to December and ending in February and March. The red tide bloom has plagued Southwest Florida beaches since fall of 2017. It was the worst in a decade. In August, Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency because of the bloom. The algae make the water toxic for marine wildlife. In addition to tons of small fish, this current bloom has killed dolphins, goliath grouper, manatees and hundreds of sea turtles.

The federal government issued an ultimatum to an energy company to stop an oil spill that has been leaking thousands of gallons into the Gulf of Mexico every day for more than 14 years. In an order issued by the U.S. Coast Guard, Taylor Energy Co. was told to “institute a … system to capture, contain, or remove oil” from the site or face a $40,000 per day fine for failing to comply. Up to 700 barrels of oil per day have leaked from Taylor Energy’s former site 12 miles off the coast of Louisiana since the platform was destroyed during Hurricane Ivan in 2004, according to an analysis issued by the Justice Department. Each barrel contains 42 gallons.

Hundreds of sea turtles stunned by cold temperatures have washed ashore along Cape Cod over the last several days. Robert Prescott, director of Massachusetts Audubon Society’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, said that 173 of the 227 sea turtles recovered by the group since Wednesday have died as of Sunday morning. Most of the turtles discovered were endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles. “It was like they were flash-frozen, flippers in all weird positions like they were swimming,” said Prescott. The organization said endangered sea turtles end up trapped because of the cape’s hook-shaped geography. As a result, they are “cold-stunned,” as their systems shut down when their body temperature drops along with the temperature inside the water.

One-hundred forty-five pilot whales that washed ashore on a southern New Zealand beach have died. Many were euthanized by conservation workers. A hiker discovered the beached whales stranded ashore Saturday on Stewart Island, a remote island with a population of about 375 people. Conservation workers believed the whales were beached a day before they were found. “Sadly, the likelihood of being able to successfully re-float the remaining whales was extremely low,” Ren Leppens, the Department of Conservation’s operations manager for the island, said in a statement. “The remote location, lack of nearby personnel and the whales’ deteriorating condition meant the most humane thing to do was to euthanize.” On Sunday at the northern end of the country, 10 pygmy killer whales were found washed ashore at Ninety Mile Beach. Two have died and conservation workers are trying to save the other eight by floating them from a different beach on the East Coast. It’s unclear what caused either stranding.

Earthquakes

More than 700 people have been injured after a magnitude 6.3 earthquake shook western Iran near its border with Iraq on Sunday night. More than 160 aftershocks were recorded in the region, including two quakes stronger than magnitude 5. Officials reported damage at buildings both in town and in rural Kermanshah, as well as to some roadways. The temblor also downed power lines and caused power outages into the night as temperatures hovered around 46 degrees Fahrenheit. The earthquake struck near Sarpol-e Zahab in Iran’s Kermanshah province where more than 600 people were killed in a quake last year.

Wildfires

The death toll in California’s deadliest wildfire has continued to climb even as firefighters have fully contained the blaze. Cal Fire reported Sunday morning that the Camp Fire in Butte County was 100 percent contained. The number of people who have died in the fire is at least 88, with 203 people still missing. The fire began Nov. 8 in the parched Sierra Nevada foothills and quickly spread across 240 square miles, destroying most of Paradise in a day. Nearly 19,000 buildings, most of them homes, are gone. Thousands of residents lost their homes and all their belongings. The firefight got a boost last week from the first significant winter storm to hit California. It dropped an estimated 7 inches of rain over the burn area over a three-day period without causing significant mudslides. Firefighting efforts will continue because, within the perimeter, there are stumps and burning roots that are underground.

Weather

A winter storm packing heavy snow and high winds was disrupting flights and snarling highways across a swath of the Midwest on Monday as America struggled back to work after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Blizzard and near-blizzard conditions were roaring through the region from Chicago to Kansas. Chicago could get a foot of snow before the weather eases later Monday. Other hard-hit areas were seeing anywhere from 6 to 18 inches. Almost 200,000 homes and businesses in Illinois were without power Monday, along with more than 50,000 in Michigan and Indiana. Parts of Illinois experienced whiteout conditions, 50-mph gusts and up to 2 inches of snow per hour. Almost 2,000 flights had been canceled Sunday and Monday. Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport was hardest hit, but Kansas City, Milwaukee; Omaha and Des Moines were among major arteries also scrambling with canceled and delayed flights. Airline delays in or out of Chicago had a ripple effect nationwide. Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver and Boston were among other airports dealing with collateral scheduling issues. The weather led most major airlines to waive change fees.

Signs of the Times

November 20, 2018

­Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  (Matthew 5:10-11)

A Pro-life Victory in Kenya

Kenyan medical authorities have banned Marie Stopes, the international abortion provider, from offering any kind of abortion services, reports Breaking Christian News. In September 2018, Marie Stopes was instructed to desist from promoting its services via Kenyan radio networks. The advertisements being run were seen by many as “drumming up” business for abortion with a direct appeal to teenage girls. The advertisements were not only judged to be offensive in terms of taste in this deeply Christian country, but for some they also appeared to be undermining existing Kenyan law on abortion, which only permits abortion in the case of a threat to the life of the mother. Advertising for abortion is not permitted under Kenyan law and is also prohibited under local medical practitioner rules. So, the breaching of the broadcast rules by Marie Stopes in September 2018 initiated an inquiry from Kenyan medical authorities. This resulted in a letter being sent on November 14, 2018 from the Kenyan Medical Practitioners Board to Marie Stopes stating that: “Marie Stopes Kenya is hereby directed to immediately cease and desist offering any form of abortion services in all its facilities within the republic.”

Planned Parenthood Ad Shows Live Baby Girl Says, ‘She Deserves to Be a Choice’

Planned Parenthood found itself engulfed in controversy when an advertisement in support of the organization was recently posted to the internet. The ad in question depicted a short video of a live baby girl before displaying the caption “she deserves to be a choice.” Although the ad is only 40 seconds in duration, it has elicited strong reactions from many who have seen it. Texas Governor Greg Abbott posted his horrified reaction to Twitter, saying: “This has to be a joke.” Patricia Heaton, widely known for her outspoken support of the unborn in infamously liberal Hollywood, took to Twitter to ask: “Um…which ghoul at @PPFA decided this was a good idea? ‘Let’s show a beautiful infant girl, then list the criteria she needs to meet in order to avoid being aborted!” Matt Walsh of the Daily Wire commented that the ad “seems almost to go out of its way to highlight the beauty and lovability of the child. It presents human life—wondrous, miraculous life—and says, ‘Yes, it is good to kill this person.”

  • Attempts to justify child murder show how delusional and insane abortion supporters have become. “Now the Spirit clearly says that in the last times some will depart from the faith and pay attention to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1)

Christian Worship in the White House

On Tuesday, worship leaders brought Jesus to the White House through praise and worship songs. In videos posted online, several prominent Christian artists and worship leaders are seen gathered in the White House singing popular worship songs like “What a Beautiful Name,” and “How Great Is Our God.” Recording artist Tauren Wells said, “What a privilege to declare the name of Jesus in worship and in prayer today at the White House. I was challenged, informed, convicted, & inspired at the #faithbriefing w/ many peers in the CCM industry. The church has a great opportunity to rise with grace & truth in this hour.” Contemporary Christian band Citizen Way was also present at the Faith Briefing, which according to Faithwire, aimed to update Faith leaders on faith-based initiatives that have been enacted under the Trump administration.

Christianity Under Relentless Attack

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs is being sued for demanding that a Christian organization allow “atheists or other non-Christians to lead their Bible studies” if it wants to be recognized on campus. But the Alliance Defending Freedom went to federal court in Colorado to defend the students. The lawsuit challenges the school’s assumption that it can deny registered status to groups if they select leaders that share the group’s religious perspectives. It also points out other discriminatory actions by the school against the Christian group, including that “non-religious groups are allowed to select members who support their purposes. And the university allows fraternities that admit only men and sororities that admit only women to continue as registered student organizations, in contradiction to the university’s policy against ‘discriminating based on sex.’” ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer said that despite “claiming inclusiveness and diversity as its core values, the University of Colorado is failing to foster real diversity of thought and is, instead, discriminating against a Christian group based on its beliefs.”

ABC’s Good Morning America celebrated an 11-year-old drag queen as a trailblazer this month, although many viewers pushed back and said the show had crossed the line in sexualizing children. Host Michael Strahan introduced a video of Desmond Napoles — also known as “Desmond Is Amazing” — by saying the child was “inspiring to many” and was “trailblazing” a path for other children. Moments later, after the video, the boy strutted down a runway toward the Good Morning America set, wearing a blonde wig and a yellow and white dress and a lot of makeup. Napoles said his mom doesn’t let him drink caffeine but that she is proud of his drag queen side life. His mom, Wendylou Napoles, then said, “It really touches me deeply that there are other children out there that he’s reaching and they’re listening to him and he’s influencing them to be themselves.” Napoles wore women’s clothes and marched at a gay pride event at age eight.

  • Satan is destroying God’s design for gender and family, with more and more unwitting people jumping on the devil’s bandwagon

Federal Judge Blocks Trump’s New Asylum Rules

A federal judge in San Francisco late Monday blocked new rules put into place by President Donald Trump that limit the ability of migrants to request asylum, a legal blow to the administration’s efforts to curb legal immigration and opens the door for more members of the migrant caravan to request asylum in the U.S. U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar ruled that the administration’s new policy of cutting off asylum to migrants who enter the country illegally appears to run afoul of U.S. law that specifically allows them to do so. The 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act states that any foreigner who arrives in the USA, “whether or not at a designated port of arrival,” may apply for asylum. But on Nov. 9, Trump tried to overrule that law, signing a presidential proclamation ending the ability of migrants to request asylum if they enter the country illegally.

Caravan Migrants Sheltered as Mexicans Tell Them to Go Home

Migrants in a caravan of Central Americans scrambled Wednesday to reach the U.S. border, arriving by the hundreds in Tijuana Wednesday, while U.S. authorities across the border were readying razor wire security barriers. More than a dozen members of the migrant caravan were arrested last Wednesday night along U.S.-Tijuana border. A small group was arrested near the beach in an area called Playas de Tijuana. A large group was arrested in the mountains east of Otay Mesa, a San Diego community that straddles the Mexican border, the source said. All were arrested for trying to cross the border illegally. Six Bangladeshi nationals were apprehended at the Texas border with Mexico in two separate incidents within a 12-hour period over the weekend. The migrants paid up to $27,000 each to be moved into the U.S. by cartel-connected human smugglers. Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security said Monday afternoon that more than 500 criminals are traveling with the migrant caravan gathered on the other side of a San Diego border crossing.

Mexicans Tell Caravan Migrants to Go Home

Hundreds of Tijuana residents, opposed to what they described as the “chaos” of the Central American migrant caravan, gathered at a prominent roundabout in Tijuana Sunday morning, before marching to a large, makeshift shelter, which now holds about 2,400 migrants. They chanted “Mexico! Mexico!” and “yes to migrants, no to invaders!” They waved banners and signs with messages urging the migrants to go home and urging the government to take action. The migrants stranded in Tijuana are complaining about cramped living spaces, exposure to the cold at night, limited access to food and safety concerns as the makeshift shelter they’ve been living in is nearing capacity, with more migrants are on the way to this border community. Meanwhile, Mexico and three Central American countries have filed a protest with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights over President Trump’s new asylum policy, arguing their citizens should be allowed to flee their countries to find refuge in the U.S.

MIT-Yale Study Says U.S. Has More Undocumented Aliens Than Reported

The U.S. may have double the number of undocumented immigrants as commonly estimated, according to a new study by MIT and Yale that has the potential to further fuel the debate over one of the nation’s most politically charged topics. While the U.S. government and several outside groups have put the number of undocumented migrants at about 11 million or 12 million, the paper issued Friday by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale University gives a “conservative estimate” of 16.7 million in 2016, with an average projection of 22.1 million. The cost of harboring illegal immigrants in the United States is a staggering $113 billion a year — an average of $1,117 for every “native-headed” household in America — according to a study conducted by the Federation for American Immigration Reform. FAIR’s opponents in the bitter immigration debate describe the organization as “extremist,” though it is regularly called upon to testify before Congress. In Texas, the additional cost of immigration, $16.4 billion, is equal to the state’s current budget deficit; in California the additional cost of $21.8 billion is $8 billion more than the state’s current budget deficit of $13.8 billion, according to the report.

Robots Are Rapidly Replacing Immigrant Farm Workers

The rationale for immigrant workers has always been “we need them for jobs American’s won’t do.” Within 10 years, 90 percent of human labor on farms and will be replaced by robots, forecasts Technocracy News. Farmworkers at California’s Taylor Farms, one of the world’s largest producers and sellers of fresh-cut vegetables, recently unveiled a fleet of robots designed to replace humans — one of the agriculture industry’s latest answers to a diminishing supply of immigrant labor. The smart machines can assemble 60 to 80 salad bags a minute, double the output of a worker. Enlisting robots made sound economic sense, Taylor Farms officials said, for a company seeking to capitalize on Americans’ insatiable appetite for healthy fare at a time when it cannot recruit enough people to work in the fields or the factory. A decade ago, people lined up by the hundreds for jobs at packing houses in California and Arizona during the lettuce season. No more.

Trump Backs Bipartisan Bill to Reform Sentencing Guidelines

President Trump on Wednesday announced his support for a bipartisan reform of federal sentencing guidelines, an ambitious effort to fix a punitive, decades-old justice system. . The First Step Act, which will still need to pass the Senate, will overhaul the country’s criminal justice sentencing for the first time in a generation and support rehabilitation efforts for federal prisoners and allow judges to exercise more discretion when sentencing nonviolent offenders, particularly for drug offenses. The bill is particularly welcomed for reforming the federal three strikes rule that mandates a life sentence for three or more convictions. Under the new legislation, the convictions would trigger a 25-year sentence instead. Many have received life sentences for minor offenses. The three strikes rule, introduced by then-President Bill Clinton, has long been criticized for exploding U.S. prison populations and the prison system costs, while being an ineffective way to combat crime.

Error in Major Climate Study Revealed

A major new climate study in the journal Nature got worldwide media coverage for finding that the oceans warmed dramatically faster than previously thought — but now the researchers have retracted that conclusion after a man in the United Kingdom blogged about flaws he discovered in the paper. Just two weeks after publication, the study authors have revised their paper, and now conclude that the oceans are warming fast — but at the same rate as other measurements have found. The error was first discovered by Nic Lewis, a retired British man who holds a bachelor’s degree in math from the University of Cambridge and who reads science papers for fun. Lewis said that the reviewers who approved that paper may have looked less closely for errors because the conclusion agreed with the typical belief that global warming is an extreme crisis.

Facebook-New York Times Fight Gets Ugly

Facebook slammed a blockbuster New York Times report for “inaccuracies” and cut ties with a GOP-opposition firm funded by George Soros. The newspaper painted a scathing portrait of Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, the company’s top leaders. In a 6,100-word story, the Times reports that over a two-year period, the social network’s tactics were to delay, deflect and deny as it faced increasing scrutiny over Russian disinformation and the corrosive spread of hate speech. The report also claims that the company’s leadership was not quick enough to combat the growing menace of fake news on its platform. In a Thursday blog post, the Menlo Park, Calif.-based social media giant took issue with numerous aspects of the Times piece. However, in a statement to Fox News, a spokesperson for the Times did not retract any of the conclusions in the report, saying: “Our story is accurate and we stand by it. The months-long investigation by a team of reporters was based on interviews with more than 50 sources including current and former Facebook executives and other employees, lawmakers and government officials, lobbyists and congressional staff members.”

FDA Announces Ban of Menthol Cigarettes, & Restrictions on E-Cigarettes

In sweeping moves intended to curb smoking and vaping among youth, the Food and Drug Administration on Thursday tightened tobacco enforcement, announced plans to ban menthol cigarettes and many flavored small cigars and moved forward with a prohibition on the sale of sweet-flavored electronic cigarette liquid at convenience stores and gas stations. The actions come in response to data released last Thursday that show dramatic increases in vaping among young people. FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb has called the use of nicotine-delivering e-cigarettes by youth an “epidemic.” E-cigarette use was up 78 percent among high school students and 48 percent among middle-school students from 2017 to 2018, according to the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey released by the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Deaths by Alcohol Increased 35% Over Last Decade

From 2007 to 2017, the number of deaths attributable to alcohol in the U.S. increased 35 percent to 88,000 in 2017, according to a new analysis by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. Deaths among women rose 67 percent. Deaths among men rose 29 percent. However, teen deaths from drinking were down about 16 percent. The District of Columbia had the highest rate of death from alcohol in the country. The increased death rate in adults has been obscured by the opioid epidemic. But alcohol kills more people each year than overdoses – through cancer, liver cirrhosis, pancreatitis and suicide, among other ways. Less than 60 percent of the U.S. adult population drinks alcohol. Binge drinking accounts for about half of all deaths attributable to alcohol. The Trump Administration’s tax cut last year included an 18 percent break for in the federal tax on beer, wine and liquor, making it cheaper to drink. States with more stringent alcohol control policies had lower rates of binge drinking, according to a 2014 analysis of state laws and taxes.

British Brexit Plan Undermined by Political Chaos

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s efforts to secure her country an orderly withdrawal from the European Union were dealt a major blow Thursday with the abrupt resignation of Dominic Raab, the minister responsible for negotiating Brexit. In his resignation letter, Raab, Britain’s Brexit secretary, said he could not “in good conscience” support the deal because it “presents a very real threat to the integrity of the United Kingdom.” His resignation comes just hours after May won the support of her bitterly divided Cabinet for a draft deal to leave the EU after months of stalled talks and setbacks that have threatened the messy divorce known as Brexit as well as May’s leadership. But May had to make big concessions to the EU to achieve the deal. Britain. The deal would prevent a “hard border” returning between EU member Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom and has helped ensure peace there.

Economic News

The wave of selling on Wall Street intensified Tuesday, with big losses in popular tech stocks extending the recent stock market slide and erasing the 2018 gains of the Dow and broad S&P 500 stock index. The selling pressure was again focused in the hard-hit technology sector, where shares of all the so-called FAANG stocks — Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google parent Alphabet — were all lower. All five stocks, which had been leading the market higher during the bull market, are now down more than 20 percent from their highs in the past year, which puts them in bear-market territory. The biggest decliners are Facebook, which has been hounded by data privacy issues, down more than 40 percent from its recent peak, and Netflix, which is off nearly 38 percent. The losses reflect investors bracing for the end of the fantastic economic and profit growth that marked the past year. Analysts expect a deceleration in 2019 driven by tariffs, the fading impact of the tax cuts and higher borrowing costs caused by the Federal Reserve raising interest rates again.

Three of the top four economies are suffering, raising fears of a global economic slowdown which could spread to the U.S. by next year. The economies of Germany and Japan shrank in the third quarter, according to data published Wednesday, providing a sharp contrast to another quarter of strong U.S. growth. In China, there are signs of a deepening economic malaise. Germany’s economy shrank for the first time since 2015 in the third quarter, partially due to a decline in exports as a result of the U.S.-China trade war. Japan’s lackluster third quarter was caused by natural disasters. n China, the world’s second largest economy, new data revealed weaker consumption growth, subdued confidence and disappointing credit growth.

China has just dumped its biggest load of United States treasuries in 8 months.  China’s share of U..S Treasuries holdings had the highest decline since January back in September, as the ongoing and ever-increasing trade tensions with Washington forced the world’s biggest economy to take measures to stabilize its national currency. Although the country is still the biggest foreign holder of the U.S. foreign debt, China has slashed its share by nearly $14 billion, with the country’s holdings falling to $1.15 trillion from nearly $1.17 trillion in August. China is following Japan’s lead, as their share of U.S. Treasuries fell to $1.03 trillion, the lowest since October of 2011. Other nations are also divesting from the dollar as well making the U.S.’s currency highly unstable.

Gas prices are plunging as the Thanksgiving holiday travel period approaches. A dramatic drop in oil prices over the last several weeks is fueling the decline. Gas prices neared a four-year high in October, when they briefly topped $2.90 per gallon, but have since retreated. Ample global supplies of petroleum, which is refined into gasoline,  have played a key role in delivering savings for consumers. The national average was $2.61 per gallon on Tuesday morning, down 14 cents from a week earlier and 22 cents from a month earlier, according to AAA. But those prices are still up 19 cents from a year ago.

Middle East

A senior Israeli official indicated that an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire was reached between Israel and Hamas, as well as other Gaza terrorist groups, last week amid after Hamas had launched more than 400 rockets into Israel, injuring 27 Israelis. Four top ministers opposed the reported ceasefire: Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Environmental Protection Minister Ze’ev Elkin and Education Minister Naftali Bennett. Israel avoided early elections after a key coalition partner in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government said on Monday that he would not withdraw his party, keeping the coalition intact despite a crisis triggered by a violent flare-up with Gaza militants. Education Minister Naftali Bennett said his hard-line, pro-settler Jewish Home party would give Netanyahu another chance to address the security challenges facing Israel, listing off threats from Gaza and Lebanon, among others, which he wanted dealt with more firmly. Bennett had earlier threatened to resign and his about-face eased the most serious coalition crisis Israel’s government has faced since it was formed in 2015. He acknowledged that the turnaround could hurt him politically, but said he felt it was in the country’s interests to give Netanyahu one last chance.

The United States has voted for the first time against a U.N. resolution in favor of Syria’s possession of the Golan Heights, which it lost after attacking Israel in the 1967 war. The United Nations General Assembly’s “decolonization committee” voted 152-2 in favor of a resolution attacking Israel’s control of the Golan Heights, with 14 abstentions. The U.S. previously abstained on the resolution, but on Friday it voted “no” for the first time, joined by Israel, which has retained control of the area since Syria and three other Arab nations attacked Israel in 1967’s Six-Day War. The Golan Heights remains a strategic linchpin for Israel, protecting it from the Iranian military, which operates freely in Syria and is sworn to Israel’s destruction, and also from Islamic terror groups such as ISIS. The resolution, which passed along with eight other anti-Israel resolutions, declares Israel’s jurisdiction and administration of “the occupied Syrian Golan” to be “null and void.”

A Palestinian terrorist was shot and critically wounded last week after stabbing four policemen when the terrorist infiltrated a police station and attacked the officers. An initial inquiry indicates that the knife-wielding terrorist scaled the fence of the Armon Hanatziv station. All injured officers, several of them young Border Policemen, were evacuated to Shaare Zedek Hospital in the capital and were later released from the hospital after receiving medical treatment. The Armon Hanatziv neighborhood is situated adjacent to Palestinian neighborhoods, near the hostile neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, which has been the site of several terror attacks, some of them lethal.

Yemen

Intense fighting broke out in Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah late on Monday, shattering a lull in violence that had raised hopes of a ceasefire holding between a Saudi-led coalition and Houthi insurgents as the United Nations tried to resume peace talks. Coalition warplanes conducted more than 10 air strikes on Houthi positions. The coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had last week ordered a halt in its offensive against the Houthi-held Red Sea port city, now a focus of the war, amid pressure from the West to end a conflict that has pushed Yemen to the brink of famine. The two countries also pledged on Tuesday a new $500 million food aid program for Yemen, aiming to reach 10 to 12 million people. The Iranian-aligned Houthi group announced early on Monday it was halting drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia, the UAE and their Yemeni allies, in one of its biggest concessions since it quit the southern port city of Aden in 2015. The Houthi movement also said it was ready for a broader ceasefire if the coalition “wants peace”. Later Yemeni information minister Moammar al-Eryani said the Houthis had “fired a missile towards Saudi lands.”

Syria

A military operation by a United States-backed Kurdish coalition against the last pockets of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as ISIS, in northeast Syria seems far from ending soon. The ISIL is successfully absorbing the attacks of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish as well as Arab and Assyrian militias. Since the start of the SDF offensive in the northeastern province of Deir Az Zor on May 10, ISIL fighters have been blending in with the civilian population, making identifying the group’s members difficult, according to an SDF commander. Despite the fact that ISIL seems doomed militarily, it has powerful sleeper cells who help it to forestall the coalition movements by strewing mines everywhere; in trees, on roads, in fridges, inside toys, and under blankets. Civilians in the area are paying the highest price. The Doctors Without Borders’ hospital in Kurdish-controlled al-Hasaka, 185km north of Deir Az Zor, receives an average of one patient per day with injuries caused by landmines and IEDs. Most of the injured come from Deir Az Zor and more than half are children.

Saudi Arabia

The United States sanctioned 17 Saudi Arabian nationals Thursday in connection with the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The announcement came just hours after Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor said he will seek the death penalty for five suspects among 11 charged in the killing of the Washington Post columnist last month in Istanbul.  Among those sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department was Saud Al-Qahtani, a former senior adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The sanctions immediately freeze the U.S. assets of the 17 individuals targeted and prohibit Americans from doing business with them.

Volcanoes

Guatemalan officials are urging evacuations after increased activity at the Volcano of Fire just months after the volcano killed at least 194 people. Disaster coordination authorities have asked 10 communities in Guatemala to evacuate and go to safe areas. The 10 communities have at least 2,000 residents, but each community will decide if they evacuate or not. The 3,763-meter (12,300-feet) Volcano of Fire is one of the most active in Central America. An eruption in June killed 194 people and left at least 234 missing, although organizations supporting the communities have insisted there are thousands of missing persons. It spewed more ash and lava in October, prompting warnings for the nearby communities.

Wildfires

More than a week after the Camp Fire was sparked in Northern California, the death toll from the deadliest wildfire in state history continues to grow, with the fire 66% contained as of Tuesday morning. At least 79 people have died in the fire, officials said, including seven people whose remains were discovered Thursday. But search teams continue to sift through an estimated 10,000 destroyed structures for signs of the people who remain unaccounted for, an ever-changing list of names amid the frenzy of new and canceled missing-persons reports. The number of missing people increased dramatically over the weekend, to more than 1300. Search efforts to find the remains of victims have taken on a new level of urgency as rain threatens to wash away or muddy evidence of human remains. Three deaths were confirmed in the Woolsey Fire in Southern California bringing the statewide total to eighty. State officials also have another disaster on their hands: air quality so bad that millions couldn’t go outside. A statewide public health emergency was declared because of the smoke billowing from the blazes. Air quality reached such unhealthy levels in parts of the state, especially in the Bay Area, that schools, universities, and businesses closed.

Many people did not receive emergency alert warnings about the Camp Fire, and some who did received them too late. Instead, they learned of the danger not from authorities but through their own eyes and ears, or from concerned friends and family. In a press conference on Tuesday, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea defended the county’s use of the emergency alert system during the fire. He said the situation was “extraordinarily chaotic and rapidly moving” and so it took time for fire experts to get to the scene, determine the fire’s direction and warn the affected people — time they just didn’t have. At one point, the fire was consuming the equivalent of 80 football fields per minute.

Weather

An early winter storm spread chaos and misery from the Midwest to New England to the Deep South last week, causing at least seven deaths and triggering a New York-area commuter nightmare with jammed roadways, fuming travelers, and buses stalled for lack of snow tires. The St. Louis area had as 8 inches of snow, parts of suburban Philadelphia got 5 inches, and sections of New Jersey were on target for 8 inches, while parts of southern New England was bracing for up to to 6 inches as the storm moved east. More than a foot of snow fell across portions of the Poconos in Pennsylvania and the Catskill Mountains in New York and 6 to 10 inches of snow accumulated from western Maryland to northeastern Massachusetts. Parts of upstate New York received more than 18 inches of snow.

Many commuters and students who got stuck in the snowstorm-induced traffic jams that brought the New York City metropolitan area to a grinding halt Thursday night still weren’t home as of Friday morning, as reports emerged of drivers sleeping in their cars and children forced to spend the night at schools. In New Jersey, the West Orange Public School district said as of 9 a.m. Friday it is still working with the police department and city officials to send students home. The district – which serves more than 6,000 students – says it kept some students overnight after numerous buses had to turn around Thursday “due to the number of abandoned vehicles and road conditions throughout the county.”

Signs of the Times

November 13, 2018

­And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:6-8)

Vatican Orders U.S. Bishops to Delay Moving on Sexual Abuse Crisis

The Vatican has told the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to delay voting on measures to hold bishops accountable for failing to protect children from sexual abuse, the president of the conference said in a surprise announcement Monday morning. In his announcement, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo said he was “disappointed” by the Vatican’s decision, which he said he learned of on Sunday afternoon. Pope Francis will convene a meeting of bishops from around the world in February to address the sexual abuse crisis, which has roiled the church on several continents, including North America, South America and Australia. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops had been expected to debate and vote on several “concrete measures to respond to the abuse crisis,” according to a news release about the meeting in Baltimore.

Catholic Groups Protest Pope’s Stand Against Abortion

Catholics for Choice organized a group of 50 abortion providers and advocacy organizations across more than 20 countries to send a joint letter to Pope Francis decrying the Pontiff’s comments that compared providing abortion care to contracting a killer. “Once again Pope Francis has revealed he has a serious blind spot when it comes to the needs of women,” said Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice. “He claims a devotion to the world’s poorest people, but he failed to show compassion or understanding about the impact that unsafe abortion has on the poorest women globally. Almost 50,000 women die, and millions more suffer serious injuries, due to unsafe abortions every year. It is negligent, dangerous and cruel to ignore these daily realities.”

  • Murder is never the right solution

Thousand Oaks Makes 307 Mass Shootings in 311 Days in U.S.

Thousand Oaks, California, added its name to a dark roster: the site of the 307th mass shooting in the U.S. on the 311th day of this year, reports. The Wednesday night massacre at the Borderline Bar and Grill, which left 13 people dead, including the gunman, became the nation’s latest mass shooting. According to data from the Gun Violence Archive, a not-for-profit organization that provides online public access to information about gun-related violence, 328 people died in those incidents, and 1,251 were injured. The latest incident was also the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S. in 2018 since 17 classmates and teachers were gunned down at a Parkland, Florida, school on Valentine’s Day. 2018 has seen several high-profile mass shootings: Five people were gunned down in the newsroom of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, on June 28; Ten were fatally shot at Santa Fe High School on May 18; Four people killed at a Waffle House in Nashville, Tennessee, on April 22; and a Bakersfield, CA, man fatally shot five, including his wife, before killing himself.

New Rule Makes Illegal Border Crossers Ineligible for Asylum

The White House announced last Thursday that it will crack down on “meritless” claims of asylum by illegal immigrants attempting to cross the border. The new rule will require that migrants who wish to claim asylum do so at an official border crossing. President Trump enacted the rule Friday in a presidential proclamation.  “Consistent with our immigration laws, the President has the broad authority to suspend or restrict the entry of aliens into the United States if he determines it to be in the national interest to do so,” Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a joint statement. “Our asylum system is overwhelmed with too many meritless asylum claims from aliens who place a tremendous burden on our resources, preventing us from being able to expeditiously grant asylum to those who truly deserve it.  Today, we are using the authority granted to us by Congress to bar aliens who violate a Presidential suspension of entry or other restriction from asylum eligibility.”

  • The new rule presents a difficult choice to the 6,000 caravan migrants. With long lines, and long wait times adding up to several months at legal border crossing sites, most migrants will have no choice but to turn around or pursue jobs in Mexico. Others, impatient, will try to cross illegally. If caught, they will lose the right to apply for legal entry for 3 to 10 years.

Number of Illegal Immigrant Families Set Record in October

The number of illegal immigrant families entering the U.S. shattered the record in October, according to new numbers released Friday. A staggering 23,121 parents and children traveling as families were caught jumping the border last month. That’s nearly 40 percent higher than any month on record. It’s also nearly 400 percent more than the number recorded just a year ago. Last week, Border Patrol agents nabs nearly 450 illegal immigrants on Tuesday and Wednesday. Those two days were more than the 450 nabbed in all of November last year. The numbers underscore the challenge the Trump administration is facing as it tries to tamp down on what appears to be a run for the border by Central Americans, particularly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Pushed by grim conditions back home and enticed into the U.S. by lax policies, children and families from those countries have come to dominate the border immigration problem.

Illegal Immigrant Criminal Released by Sanctuary County Kills Three

An illegal immigrant released by a “sanctuary” county in New Jersey was charged last week with a triple homicide halfway across the country in Missouri, authorities said Friday. Luis Rodrigo Perez stands accused of being the gunman in a shooting rampage last week that claimed the lives of two men and one woman at two homes. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it had tried to deport Perez after he was arrested on domestic violence charges in Middlesex County, New Jersey, last year. But the county, which has a noncooperation policy with ICE, refused to alert federal agents when it released Perez in February, ICE said. “Had ICE’s detainer request in December 2017 been honored by Middlesex County Jail, Luis Rodrigo Perez would have been placed in deportation proceedings and likely sent home to his country — and three innocent people might be alive today,” said Corey Price, acting ICE executive associate director.

Appeals Court Says Trump Can’t End DACA

A federal appeals court last Thursday upheld a ruling blocking the Trump administration from ending the Obama-era program that protects young undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children from being deported. The ruling from a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals means a nationwide injunction allowing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to continue will remain in effect. “We conclude that plaintiffs are likely to succeed on their claim that the rescission of DACA — at least as justified on this record — is arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise not in accordance with law,” reads the opinion from Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw, an appointee of President Bill Clinton. In September 2017, the Trump administration announced plans to phase out DACA, but lower court judges blocked the administration from doing so and ordered that renewals of protections for recipients continue until the appeals are resolved.

Antifa Expands its Hit List as Political Violence Escalates

When a mob of left-wing antifa activists descended Wednesday night on Fox News personality Tucker Carlson’s D.C. home, it signaled a new phase in the political violence and angry confrontations that now are targeting the news media. Political violence has been rising in the U.S. since 2012, according to the Global Terrorism Database. Increasingly aggressive activists have pushed political confrontation to the limit since 2016, accosting Republican lawmakers and Trump administration officials in restaurants and in the halls of Congress. And now they’re going after conservative journalists at their homes. Antifa is short of anti-fascist, though the group has anarchist leanings and targets anyone perceived as not in step with a far-left agenda.

Hate Crimes Rose 17% Last Year and Anti-Semitic Hate Crimes Rose 37%

Law enforcement agencies reported 7,175 hate crimes in 2017, up from 6,121 a year prior. More than half of such crimes — about 3 out of every 5 — targeted a person’s race or ethnicity, while about 1 out of 5 targeted their religion. The increase was fueled in part by more police departments reporting hate crimes data to the FBI, but overall there are still a large number of departments that do not send hate crimes to the federal database. The sharp increase in hate crimes in 2017 came even as overall violent crime in America fell slightly, by 0.2 percent, after increases in 2015 and 2016. Of the more than 7,000 incidents reported last year, 2,013 targeted black Americans, while 938 targeted Jewish Americans. Incidents targeting people for their sexual orientation accounted for 1,130 hate crimes, according to the FBI. Anti-Semitic hate crimes rose 37 percent in 2017. Anti-Islamic hate crimes declined 11 percent last year, with 273 such incidents, the data show.

Israel Concerned About Increased Anti-Semitic Incidents in U.S.

The Knesset’s Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs is concerned over the sharp increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S., which culminated with the recent attack at a synagogue in Pittsburgh where a gunman shot 11 Jewish worshipers to death and wounded several others. “Israel must demand that the authorities in the United States eradicate the phenomenon and impose harsher punishment,” Committee Chairman MK Avraham Neguise stated. The U.S. Jewish community is the second-largest in the world and numbers some six million people. The Anti-Defamation League in its annual audit found that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the US rose by 57 percent in 2017, the largest single-year increase on record and the second highest number reported since the American NGO began tracking such data in 1979.

Judge Blocks Keystone Pipeline

A federal judge in Montana has blocked construction of the $8 billion Keystone XL Pipeline after criticizing the Trump administration for not properly studying its environmental impact. U.S. District Judge Brian Morris’ order on Thursday came as Calgary-based TransCanada was preparing to build the first stages of the oil pipeline in northern Montana. Environmental groups had sued TransCanada and the U.S. State Department in federal court in Great Falls. Morris ruled that the government’s analysis didn’t fully study the cumulative effects of greenhouse gas emissions, the effects of current oil prices on the pipeline’s viability, or include updated modeling of potential oil spills. “The Department instead simply discarded prior factual findings related to climate change to support its course reversal,” Morris wrote.

Less Than One-Third of Americans Meet New Fitness Standards

Less than a third of Americans, and only one in five teenagers, meet new physical fitness guidelines issued by the federal government Monday. The guidelines, which officials said could be easily achieved by most, call on adults to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity and two sessions of muscle-strengthening activity each week. Children ages 6 through 17 should get at least 60 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per day and three sessions of muscle-strengthening per week. Moderate-intensity activity includes walking briskly, riding a bike on level ground with few hills and playing doubles tennis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Muscle-strengthening activity includes lifting weights, “heavy gardening,” such as shoveling, and yoga.

Worldwide Decline in Fertility Rate

There has been a remarkable global decline in the number of children women are having, say researchers. Their report found that the declining fertility rate meant nearly half of countries were now facing a “baby bust” – meaning there are insufficient children to maintain the country’s population size. The researchers said the findings were a “huge surprise” and noted that there would be profound consequences for societies with “more grandparents than grandchildren”. The study, published in the Lancet, followed trends in every country from 1950 to 2017. In 1950, women were having an average of 4.7 children in their lifetime. The fertility rate all but halved to 2.4 children per woman by last year. But that masks huge variation between nations. The fertility rate in Niger, west Africa, is 7.1, but in the Mediterranean island of Cyprus women are having one child, on average. In the UK, the rate is 1.7, similar to most Western European countries. In the U.S., the rate is 1.8. It’s mostly economically developed countries including most of Europe, the US, South Korea and Australia that have lower fertility rates.

Worst Ever Ebola Outbreak in Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo is facing the worst Ebola outbreak in the country’s history, according to officials. More than 200 people have died from the disease since August and almost 330 confirmed or probable cases have been reported. This outbreak — the second this year — began in North Kivu province before spreading to Ituri province in the east of the country. It’s the 10th time since 1976 that Ebola has struck the DRC. The country’s Minister of Public Health, Oly Ilunga Kalenga, said Sunday that violence against health officials and civilians by militant groups battling for control in the affected region have thwarted efforts to contain the outbreak. Two health workers died in one attack, according to the minister, while last month 11 civilians and one soldier were killed in Beni, a city of 800,000 people and the epicenter of the outbreak. More than 1 million refugees and internally displaced people are in North Kivu and Ituri, according to World Health Organization (WHO), and their movement through and out of the provinces is a potential risk factor for the spread of Ebola.

Economic News

President Trump and Republicans in Congress vowed that this year’s big tax cut would unleash a wave of business investment that would juice economic growth. But increases in capital spending for businesses of all sizes slowed dramatically in the third quarter, raising questions about whether the tax-cut benefits are already fading. Business investment edged up at an annual rate of just 0.8% in the July-September period, down from 11.5% and 8.7% in the prior two quarters, and the smallest advance since late 2016, the Commerce Department Some economists say the pullback reflects business worries over the tariffs and likely foreshadows a broader slowdown in the economy.

China and the United States are locked in a trade war, but you wouldn’t know it from looking at Chinese exports. They leaped almost 16% in October compared with the same month a year earlier. That was significantly higher than analysts had forecast and even stronger than last month’s growth. The performance is surprising because October was the first full month during which new U.S. tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods were in effect. One reason for the surge is companies are eager to avoid even higher duties in a few months’ time: The US tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods that kicked in on September 24 are set to rise from 10% to 25% at the end of the year.

Saudi Arabia will reduce oil supply next month in response to lower demand, and more cuts could follow next year. Speaking at a conference in Abu Dhabi, Saudi energy minister Khalid Al Falih said the kingdom’s oil output would fall by 500,000 barrels per day in December. Members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies could reduce supply further next year if needed, he added. Global oil prices tumbled into a bear market last week, down more than 20% from their recent peak. As of the close of markets on Monday, crude oil has now lost ground for 11 consecutive days, the longest slide since oil futures trading was introduced on the NYMEX in March 1983.

Middle East

Israel and Hamas are on the brink of outright war. Over 400 rockets, mortars and anti-tank missiles had been fired into Israel from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip by late Tuesday morning, while the IDF reported striking 150 targets in the Strip belonging to Hamas or the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror militia. Additionally, IDF ground units had been moved into position outside the Strip in possible preparation for an incursion. “The IDF is determined to fulfill its mission of defending Israeli citizens, and is prepared and ready for a variety of scenarios, as necessary,” said an IDF statement. At press time, at least one Israeli citizen had been killed and 85 wounded, while sources in the Strip reported that several Hamas and PIJ terrorists have also been killed and wounded.

The Israeli army has defended a secret operation inside Gaza that left one of its officers dead, after it was forced to pull out its soldiers in an effort that ended in the deaths of seven Palestinians, including a senior Hamas military commander. The incident, near the city of Khan Younis in the south of the Gaza strip, led to a barrage of 200 rockets fired from Gaza towards Israel late last week that injured at least 16.The sudden escalation of tensions threatens to derail recent initiatives aimed at alleviating the humanitarian situation facing Gaza’s two million residents. Hinting that the operation was part of a wider intelligence-gathering sweep, IDF chief spokesman, Ronen Manelis said, “It is the sort of thing that takes place every night, and in most instances remains under the media’s radar.”

Israel and Hezbollah have been adversaries for decades now, dating back to the Jewish state’s involvement in the Lebanese civil war. However, bolstered by the military and financial support of its Iranian patron, the Lebanese terror group now poses a threat to Israel unlike anything the Jewish state has seen in recent history. A new report from the Jewish Institute for National Security of America’s Hybrid Warfare Task force, headed by several retired senior U.S. military officials, says that, “Today, Hezbollah possesses more firepower than 95 percent of the world’s conventional militaries, and more rockets and missiles than all European NATO members combined.” According to the report, the next conflict with Hezbollah will “bear little resemblance to anything that has come before between Israel and its adversaries. Changes in the strategic environment in the 12 years since the last Israeli-Hezbollah conflict will translate into unparalleled death and destruction.”

Islamic State

U.S.-backed Syrian fighters resumed their ground offensive Sunday against the Islamic State group in the last territories controlled by the extremists in eastern Syria. The Syrian Democratic Forces said in a statement that the decision to resume the fighting came after threats from Turkey against the Kurdish-led force dropped due to diplomatic activities. The SDF said in late October it was temporarily suspending its campaign against IS in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour, accusing Turkey of jeopardizing its efforts. The group said that the aim of the renewed operation that began two months ago is “to work for the final defeat of Daesh organization,” using an Arab acronym to refer to the group. Turkey considers the SDF a terror threat and an extension of Kurdish rebels waging an insurgency within Turkey. U.S. support for the Kurdish-led forces has resulted in increased tension between Washington and Ankara.

Syria

Washington will focus on pressuring Iran financially and contesting its activities in Syria, Iraq and Yemen where the Persian nation enjoys broad influence, the U.S. envoy to Syria said last Wednesday, adding that Tehran should withdraw all Iran-commanded forces from Syria. Ambassador James Jeffrey said that Iran enjoys influence in several countries in the region where it backs well-armed militias that are deployed in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. Speaking about Iran’s future in Syria, Jeffrey said: “Iranians are part of the problem not part of the solution.” Jeffrey said the Trump administration is now focusing on putting financial pressure on Iran and “secondly contesting more actively Iran’s activities particularly in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.” Washington this week imposed a new list of sanctions against Iran’s vital oil exports, banking and transport industries.” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said “a war situation” is impending as the U.S. extends sanctions on the country.

Somalia

The death toll from three car bombs detonated near a hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia has risen to 52 people. Around 100 people were injured in the blast which happened near a hotel popular with visitors to the country and international journalists. Five of the attackers attempted to storm the Sahafi hotel but were shot and killed by policemen. Fifty-two Somali officials were rescued from the scene of the attack and from a nearby hotel, police said. Those who carried out the attack were dressed in police uniforms, but they were Al Shabab attackers, said a government spokesperson at the scene. Al Shabab, an al-Qaeda-affiliated terror group, claimed responsibility. Since 2006, the group has carried out repeated attacks in Mogadishu against different targets — killing international aid workers, journalists, civilian leaders and peacekeepers — as well as Somalia’s government and military targets. It wants to turn Somalia into a fundamentalist Islamic state, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

Yemen

Under increasing pressure from Congress, the Trump administration will curb its assistance to Saudi Arabia’s deadly military campaign in Yemen, officials confirmed Friday. The Defense and State departments said Friday that the U.S. would stop refueling Saudi fighter planes as the regime undertakes bombing campaigns that have resulted in thousands of civilian casualties. The New York Times first reported the decision, casting it as a move by the administration to punish Saudi Arabia for its role in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who had been critical of the Saudi regime. Khashoggi, a U.S. resident, was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey last month, after trying to obtain documents he needed to marry his fiancé. Khashoggi’s death sparked international outrage, as well as intense scrutiny of the U.S.-Saudi relationship. President Donald Trump and other top administration officials have until now resisted calls to end arms sales to Saudi Arabia or otherwise penalize the regime for Khashoggi’s death, citing the royal family’s assistance in U.S. efforts to counter Iran.

North Korea

North Korea is conning the United States, building up secret, smaller missile bases even after publicly touting the dismantling of its main launch site, according to a new review of satellite images by a top think tank. Citing new satellite pictures, the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Beyond Parallel program identified what appears to be missile operating bases that have never been acknowledged by North Korean officials. The report identified about 15 to 20 bases being operated by the Korean People’s Army’s Strategic Force, based on information from officials in the government, defense and intelligence, as well as North Korean defectors. “The ballistic missile operating bases are small, dispersed throughout the nation, and, with few exceptions, located in narrow mountain valleys,” the CSIS report stated.

Wildfires

On both ends of the Golden State, weary crews continued to work tirelessly to contain two massive wildfires that have killed at least 44 and devastated entire towns. An additional 13 bodies were recovered Monday in northern California, bringing the death toll in Northern California’s Camp Fire to 42, making it the deadliest in the state’s history. The fire is also the most destructive fire on record, burning an estimated 6,700 structures. Two people died earlier in the Woolsey Fire in Southern California bringing the statewide toll to 44 this month. The Camp Fire has surpassed California’s other deadliest fires, including the 2017 Tubbs Fire, which claimed the lives of 22, according to Cal Fire. The 1933 Griffith Park Fire killed 29 people. Searches for the missing also continue. Officials have received more than 1,500 calls asking about people unaccounted for in the Camp Fire which devastated the town of Paradise. A mandatory evacuation order was issued Sunday evening for the entire city of Calabasas, home to 24,000 Southern California residents. The intense wildfire raging through Southern California forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes, including several celebrities whose homes were incinerated.

Weather

In Jordan, at least 11 people have been killed and the kingdom’s main tourist attraction, the ancient city of Petra, was closed after being hit by one of the biggest floods the area has seen in decades, according to local officials. Friday’s deluge hit numerous areas of Jordan and rescuers continued their efforts to find missing people around the Wala reservoir in central Jordan. The torrents came two weeks after 21 people, most of them children, were killed in flash floods near the Dead Sea.

Signs of the Times

November 7, 2018

­Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons. (1Timothy 4:1)

There Are Now More Wiccans than Presbyterians in U.S.

There may now be more Americans who identify as practicing witches… than there are members of mainline Presbyterianism, reports Crosswalk.com. Wicca is among the fastest-growing religions in the country. Almost half a million people practice it in the United States alone. A book titled Teen Witch: Wicca for a New Generation sold more copies for its publisher than any other book in its 95-year history. Websites devoted to Wicca have been cited as the most visited religious websites on the internet. Wicca has effectively repackaged witchcraft for Millennial consumption. No longer are witchcraft and paganism satanic and demonic. Rather, it’s now called a ‘pre-Christian tradition’ that promotes ‘free thought’ and the ‘understanding of earth and nature.’” Despite biblical warnings against the practice of witchcraft, the Rev. Valerie Love, who describes herself as a practicing Christian witch and an ordained minister of spiritual consciousness, is insisting that there is nothing wrong with Christians being witches and has recently launched a school to help Christians tap into magic.

Despite Violence by Islamic Terror Group, Thousands in Nigeria Are Turning to Christ

Despite an Islamic terrorist group’s violence, thousands in Nigeria are becoming Christians, said Todd Nettleton, of Voice of the Martyrs. Islamists in the Fulani tribe recently raided a village in the city of Jos in late September. Twenty people were killed in their homes. Emeka Umeagbalasi, board chairman of the International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law, said Christians have been shot to death, with homes and churches also destroyed. Still, according to The Christian Post, “thousands” of Fulani are committing their lives to Jesus. Nettleton added that the Voice of the Martyrs is helping to provide food, sleeping mats and mosquito nets to Christians who have been forced to flee because of the violence.

Canada’s Child Services Rejects Couple as Foster Parents over Religion

Hoping to foster a child in their home, husband and wife Levi and Amanda denBok applied with Children’s Aid Services (CAS) but were informed via letter that their religious beliefs disqualified them, The Christian Post reported. The couple shared the rejection letter in a Facebook post, describing how they were asked by a CAS adopting agent what church they attend and if they believe the Bible is true. In the interview, the husband and wife were asked: “Are you one of those churches that still believes the Bible is true?” The agent then informed the couple that the Bible was written “thousands of years ago” and the world has since changed. Dr. Charles McVety, who leads Canada Christian College as president, says the married couple’s beliefs don’t match the supposed “values” of the province of Ontario and its leaders. Yet it’s widely known, he says, that CAS favors same-sex couples as foster parents over religious couples.

Guam Catholic Church to File for Bankruptcy Due to Abuse Lawsuits

Guam’s Catholic church will file for bankruptcy — a move that will allow the archdiocese to avoid trial in dozens of lawsuits alleging child sexual abuse by priests and move toward settlements. Archbishop Michael Byrnes announced Wednesday that mediation efforts that began in September led the church to bankruptcy. “This path will bring the greatest measure of justice to the greatest number of victims,” Byrnes said. “That’s the heart of what we’re doing.” Byrnes said the bankruptcy will provide “finality for victim survivors that they’ve been heard and understood.” Attorney Leander James, who is working with abuse victims in Guam, said in a statement the move will help resolve current lawsuits from more than 180 claims of abuse through settlements.

Study Shows Homosexuality is Strongly Linked to Catholic Clergy Sex Abuse

A new report by Ruth Institute has studied the question that those in authority in the Catholic Church have assiduously avoided for decades: Is there a correlation between the presence of a high proportion of homosexuals in the priesthood and the incidence of clergy sex abuse?  The report examines how “homosexual subcultures” within Catholic seminaries may have contributed to creating an environment where homosexual clergy were more likely to abuse minors.  “Although over 8 in 10 of victims have been boys, the idea that the abuse is related to homosexual men in the priesthood has not been widely accepted by Church leaders,” wrote Father Paul Sullins, a retired Catholic University of America sociology professor. “The data show that more homosexual men in the priesthood was correlated with more overall abuse and more boys abused compared to girls. Usually in sex abuse of minors, two-thirds of victims are girls.”

Democrats Seize House While Republicans Expand Control of Senate

Democratic candidates gained about two dozen House seats as Republicans expanded their hold on the Senate. A Democratic House majority will end two years of Republican control of all levers of government and is expected to press for President Trump’s tax returns and investigate his administration. The most expensive and consequential midterm elections in modern times came to a dramatic finish that underscored the nation’s deep polarization, but fell short of delivering the sweeping repudiation of Trump that Democrats expected. President Trump helped Republicans win hotly contested Senate races in Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas, and proclaimed the election’s outcome a “tremendous success.” Republicans held their grip throughout the South and in rural and exurban areas. But Democrats — propelled by women and minority voters especially — notched victories in districts that just two years ago helped send Trump to the White House. Trump endorsed California Democrat Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House on Wednesday morning.

Women and Minorities Achieve Gains Nationwide

From a pair of Native American women to a Somali refugee to the first openly gay man elected governor, the 2018 midterm elections brought a series of history-making votes that marked major accomplishments for women, minority and LGBT candidates. A record number of women are projected to win seats in the House in a massive night for female candidates across the political spectrum. Democrats Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland will become the first Native American women elected to Congress. Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party will become the first Muslim women in Congress. Rep. Marsha Blackburn became the first female senator to represent Tennessee and Arizona is guaranteed to elect its first female senator. Following GOP Sen. Jeff Flake’s decision last year not to seek re-election, Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema and GOP Rep. Martha McSally are in a race too close to call as of Monday morning. Colorado Democratic Rep. Jared Polis is the first openly gay man elected governor.

Ballot Measures Address Abortion, Marijuana, Medicaid, Transgenders, Fracking

There were more than 150 statewide measures on ballots this midterm election. Alabama and West Virginia voted measures into their constitutions that restrict abortion. Alabama’s amendment to the constitution gives a fetus the same rights as a human who has been born. West Virginia’s Amendment 1, narrowly passed. Also known as the No Constitutional Right to Abortion Amendment, it explicitly states that its Constitution has nothing in it that “secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion.” Michigan became the tenth state that allows recreational marijuana use. However, North Dakota, voters rejected an initiative that would have allowed for recreational use for adults over 21. Missouri said yes to medical marijuana. Voters in Utah, Idaho and Nebraska voted yes to expand Medicaid eligibility to people under 65 whose income is 138% of the federal poverty level. Montana voters rejected Medicaid expansion.

Voters said yes to California’s Proposition 4 that will authorize $1.5 billion in bonds for children’s hospitals. In Massachusetts, preliminary voting results with Question 3 seem to suggest voters said yes to keeping a law that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in public places like restaurants, stores, hotels and hospitals. There’s no federal law that provides such protections for people who identify as transgender. Voters in Colorado have rejected a measure that would have banned drilling of fracking wells within 2,500 feet of occupied buildings, water sources and other “vulnerable” areas. Voters in San Francisco backed a plan to tax rich companies to help the homeless.

Another Kavanaugh Accuser Admits to Fabricating Rape Story

One of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s accusers admitted this week that she made up her lurid tale of a backseat car rape, saying it “was a tactic” to try to derail the judge’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, reports the Washington Times. Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Judiciary Committee revealed the fraud in a letter to the FBI and Justice Department Friday, asking them to prosecute Judy Munro-Leighton for lying to and obstructing Congress. Mr. Grassley said Ms. Munro-Leighton is a left-wing activist who hijacked another “Jane Doe” anonymous report about a backseat rape and claimed it as her own story, calling it a “vicious assault.” “I am Jane Doe from Oceanside CA — Kavanaugh raped me,” Ms. Munro-Leighton wrote in an Oct. 3 email claiming to have been a victim of the judge. Mr. Grassley’s investigators tried to reach her for a month but were unsuccessful until this week, when they spoke to her by phone and she confessed that she was not the original Jane Doe.” Kavanaugh turned down $600,000 raised by supporters during his brutal confirmation hearing that involved multiple uncorroborated allegations of sexual misconduct.

Migrant Caravan Coordinator Says Demand for Mexican Failed

The leading migrant caravan trying to make its way to the United States border is admitting defeat after asking the Mexican government to provide dozens of buses to speed up the group’s journey northward. The setback comes days after caravan leaders asked for “safe and dignified” transport to Mexico City, a checkpoint along the way for a group that has been dwindling in size as members either apply for protected status in Mexico or drop out over fatigue exacerbated by the sweltering weather conditions they have been facing. It has been a tumultuous journey so far for the leading caravan, which is now estimated to contain around 4,000 people – down from a peak of more than 7,000. At least 270 people traveling among the thousands in the new migrant caravans have criminal records, Homeland Security said last Thursday. The caravan is now in Mexico City, roughly 600 miles from McAllen, Texas and more than twice that to Tijuana, their stated goal. Their day of departure from Mexico City remains unknown

Armed Militia Groups Head to Border

Gun-carrying civilian groups and border vigilantes have been roused by President Trump’s call to restore order and defend the country against caravans of Central American migrants moving through Mexico. They’re packing coolers and tents, oiling rifles and tuning up aerial drones, with plans to form caravans of their own and trail American troops to the border. The prospect of armed vigilantes showing up beside thousands of U.S. troops — along with Border Patrol agents, police officers and migrants — is considered serious enough that military planners have issued warnings to Army commanders.

Gitmo Terrorists Obama Released Now Reinforce Taliban in Qatar

The Guantanamo terrorists released by Barack Obama in exchange for a U.S. Army deserter have joined the Taliban’s “political” office in Qatar. The move reinforces the terrorist group’s operations, according to the Spanish international news agency that broke the story last week. The five men were incarcerated at the U.S. military prison in southeast Cuba because they held positions of great importance with the terrorist group, including Chief of Staff of the Taliban Army and the Taliban Deputy Minister of Intelligence. One U.S. Senator referred to the freed jihadists as the “Taliban Dream Team.” The nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), determined that the president broke a “clear and unambiguous” law when he traded the high-level terrorists for Bergdahl, who went AWOL in Afghanistan in 2009.

Humanity has Wiped Out 60% of Animal Populations Since 1970

Humanity has wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970, leading the world’s foremost experts to warn that the annihilation of wildlife is now an emergency that threatens civilization. The new estimate of the massacre of wildlife is made in a major report produced by World Wildlife Foundation and involving fifty-nine scientists from across the globe. It finds that the vast and growing consumption of food and resources by the global population is destroying the web of life, billions of years in the making, upon which human society ultimately depends for clean air, water and everything else. “This is far more than just being about losing the wonders of nature, desperately sad though that is,” said Mike Barrett, executive director of science and conservation at WWF. “This is actually now jeopardizing the future of people. Nature is not a ‘nice to have’ – it is our life-support system.”

FDA Approves Opioid Painkiller 1,000 Times Stronger than Morphine

A new opioid tablet that is 1,000 times more potent than morphine and 10 times stronger than fentanyl was approved by the Food and Drug Administration Friday as a fast-acting alternative to IV painkillers used in hospitals. The painkiller Dsuvia will be restricted to limited use only in health care settings, such as hospitals, surgery centers and emergency rooms, but critics worry the opioid will fuel an already grim opioid epidemic. Dsuvia will not be available at retail pharmacies or for any home use. The medication, which comes in a single-use package, also should not be used for more than 72 hours. The medicine comes in a tablet that can dissolve under the tongue. Side effects of the potent drug include extreme tiredness, breathing problems, coma and death.

Economic News

U.S. and European stock markets rose sharply as the U.S. midterm election results will force President Donald Trump to share power with his Democrat opponents. “This was the most benign result possible from this midterm election,” wrote analysts at Gavekal Research. “Historically, legislative gridlock has been modestly positive for U.S. equity markets.

The economy added a healthy 250,000 jobs in October, the Labor Department said Friday in the last employment report before midterm elections. The unemployment rate was unchanged at a near 50-year low of 3.7 percent. Annual wage growth topped 3 percent for the first time in nine years. Average hourly earnings rose 5 cents to $27.30, pushing the annual gain to 3.1 percent, strongest since April 2009, from 2.8 percent in September.

Social Security pays 63 million Americans about $1 trillion in benefits annually, 5% of our country’s entire gross domestic product (GDP), which was about $19 trillion in 2017. About 90% of people aged 65 and older collect Social Security benefits. One reason Social Security isn’t likely to ever run out of money is because it’s financed to a great degree by taxes collected from workers. In 2017, about 87.7 percent of funds coming into the program came from payroll taxes, while 8.5 percent came from interest and 3.8 percent came from taxes on benefits. The Social Security program is more efficient than most people might think. Out of its budget of roughly $1 trillion, only 0.6 percent is used for administrative expenses.

Middle East

The PLO Central Council voted last week to suspend its recognition of the State of Israel and halt security coordination with the IDF. “The [PLO] is making a mistake. It’s worrisome that Ramallah is going in this direction,” Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon told Army Radio on Tuesday. “Over the last year, Ramallah has become more and more extreme, and is torpedoing any chance of an agreement.” These sentiments were echoed by several other Israeli officials. However, analysts pointed out that the PLO’s resolution was non-binding and still requires the approval of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

North Korea

North Korea has warned it could revive a state policy aimed at strengthening its nuclear arsenal if the United States does not lift economic sanctions against the country. The statement released by the Foreign Ministry on Friday evening said North Korea could bring back its “pyongjin” policy of simultaneously advancing its nuclear force and economic development if the United States doesn’t change its stance. North Korea accused Washington of derailing commitments made by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump at their June summit in Singapore to work toward a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.

Iran

The Trump administration announced Friday the snapback of crippling economic sanctions on Iran’s oil, banking, shipping and other sectors – reimposing penalties lifted by the Obama administration as part of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The White House hopes the sanctions – set to go into effect Monday and aimed at more than 700 Iranian individuals and entities – will strangle Iran’s economy and force the regime into a new round of negotiations. The U.S. wants Iran to curb its ballistic missile program and its support for terrorism, among other steps. As Iranians braced for the full restoration of the economic sanctions, their government signaled it would be open to talking to the United States about a new nuclear arms accord if Washington changes its approach to discussing the agreement it abandoned this year. “Mutual trust is not a requirement to start negotiations – mutual respect is a requirement,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said.

Islamic State

An American-backed military offensive has stalled against the Islamic State’s last vestige in eastern Syria. Booby traps, land mines and a militant counterstrike during a fierce sandstorm after the campaign began in September have knocked the coalition back on its heels. And last week, the Syrian Democratic Forces, the Kurdish-led militia that is fighting the Islamic State with American help, suspended operations after Kurdish positions farther north were shelled by Turkey — not far from United States advisers. American diplomats and generals rushed to ease tensions with the Turks, who consider Kurdish fighters terrorists despite their partnership with the United States. But the episode underscores the shifting nature of the fight against the Islamic State. ISIS is still a potent threat as it pivots from its battlefield losses in Iraq and Syria to directing guerrilla insurgencies in the Middle East and beyond.

A huge deployment of up to 30,000 Iraqi fighters has been ordered along Iraq’s western border amid fears that Islamic State could enter from Syria in a repeat of its 2014 offensive. Two Iraqi Army brigades, each with 3,000 to 5,000 troops, have been redeployed to border areas over the past two days in order to prevent extremist fighters crossing over. In addition, Shiite Muslim militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), announced that 20,000 fighters have been redeployed to the same border “to provide border security after some Syrian villages fell under the control of ISIS.” Iraq is desperate to avoid a repeat of the losses it sustained four years ago when the extremist Sunni Muslim group took over the province of Nineveh and declared a caliphate before spreading farther into Iraq. Many areas of Syria and Iraq were only recently liberated from ISIS control, although Iraq’s western province of Anbar is still home to many of the group’s militants.

Pakistan

Pakistan’s highest court on Wednesday ordered the release of a poor, illiterate Christian woman who had been sentenced to death for blasphemy, setting off a wave of demonstrations by hardline Islamists nationwide. The Supreme Court overturned the conviction against Asia Bibi, accused in 2009 of insulting the Prophet Muhammad in a case that sparked violent protests in the overwhelmingly Muslim nation of 200 million people. Bibi commented that Muslims were “unclean” so her co-workers accused her of insulting the prophet. She was later beaten, and the women complained to a local religious leader who pressed for the blasphemy charge. Blasphemy carries a death sentence under Pakistani law. Two Pakistani government officials were murdered in 2011 in assassinations linked to their support of Bibi. But the future of blasphemy laws in Pakistan is far from settled. The laws remain popular in Pakistan, and Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed support for them during the recent election campaign. Violent protests broke out in the wake of the Pakistan Supreme Court’s acquittal of Bibi.

Afghanistan

The U.S. military in Kabul says a U.S. service member has been killed in an apparent “insider attack” in the capital Kabul. The statement said the attacker was a member of the Afghan security forces and initial reports indicate the assailant was immediately killed by other Afghan forces. Another U.S. service member was wounded in the attack. The wounded service member is undergoing medical treatment and is in stable condition. The death of Brent Taylor — the North Ogden, Utah, mayor and soldier who was killed Saturday in Afghanistan — reverberated far beyond his small city in northern Utah. Just before his death, he posted in Facebook: “As the USA gets ready to vote in our own election (Tuesday), I hope everyone back home exercises their precious right to vote,” Taylor wrote in the post. “And that whether the Republicans or the Democrats win, that we all remember that we have far more as Americans that unites us than divides us. ‘United we stand, divided we fall.’ God Bless America.”

Yemen

Violence in Yemen’s key port city of Hodeidah is the worst seen in months, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator has warned, putting more civilian lives at risk in the war-torn country. Fighting has escalated since U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis a week ago called on all participants in the Yemen civil war to agree to a ceasefire in the next 30 days and start peace talks. Humanitarian workers fear that more than 100 civilian deaths may have occurred in the past week alone in Hodeidah. The city, with its key port installations that bring in UN and other humanitarian aid, has become the center of the conflict in Yemen between Arab allies led by Saudi Arabia and Houthi rebels backed by Iran.

Earthquakes

A swarm of earthquakes along the San Andreas Fault, the largest measuring a 4.1 magnitude, rumbled through the Hollister area and the Salinas Valley last Friday morning. CBS San Francisco reported that the quakes rattled nerves but caused no major damage. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the 4.1 quake hit at 5:58 a.m. PDT 12 miles southwest of the small community of Tres Pinos. It was followed by quakes measuring 3.6, 3.2 and 3.0. Officials are saying that this shaking was caused by “movement along the San Andreas Fault system”, and the initial magnitude 4.1 quake was quickly followed by a series of more than 20 aftershocks. Experts say California is overdue for a huge earthquake with some warning a major magnitude 7.0 is likely within the next 30 years. In recent months there has been an alarming amount of seismic activity worldwide along “the Ring of Fire”, and there have been times when the number of global earthquakes has been way above normal, with the number of global earthquakes over the last 30 days more than 50% above normal, according to Earthquake Track.

Weather

A recent United Nations report warned that the world had just a dozen years left to avoid some of the most catastrophic effects of climate change. A new study suggests that assessment was far too optimistic. Researchers using a new method to calculate the amount of heat absorbed by the world’s oceans say the buildup of heat over the last 25 years is 60% higher than previous estimates, meaning the world is warming significantly faster than expected, the BBC reports. In the study published in the journal Nature, the researchers, who measured gases released by the oceans, warn that our planet appears to be more sensitive to the release of greenhouse gases than earlier believed—and that dealing with the problem will be even more of a challenge.

A total of 22 confirmed tornadoes across six states were spawned by a severe weather outbreak in the South overnight Monday into Tuesday morning, leaving a trail of damage and killing at least one person. The National Weather Service gave one tornado a preliminary EF2 rating, with an estimated wind speed of 135 mph. Numerous trees were reported down.

At least 11 people died in Italy last week due to historic flooding throughout the country, officials said Tuesday. In Venice, more than 70 percent of the city was inundated as water levels rose over five feet above normal. In addition to heavy rain, sea water was also pushed into the city by a powerful storm and exacerbated by high tides.