Archive for April, 2019

Signs of the Times

April 27, 2019

­We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed. (2Corinthians 4:8-9, NKJV)

Miraculous Healing of Boy Thrown Off Balcony

A 5-year-old boy who was thrown from a third-floor balcony at the Mall of America miraculously suffered no brain damage, his family pastor said. The boy fell nearly 40 feet after a stranger “looking for someone to kill” picked him up and threw him off earlier this month. Now, the boy is showing “zero evidence of brain damage” Mac Hammond, a pastor at the family’s church, said. No spinal cord injury, no nerve damage, no internal injuries that were life-threatening. The boy did sustain many broken bones. The boys parents said in a statement that prayers were working and that “God’s hand is working.” The family’s statement also said Jesus “saved our son’s life and is healing him in the most miraculous ways.”

Faith-Based Film Breakthrough Opens Top 3 in Box Office

The faith-based film Breakthrough reached hit status its opening weekend, landing in the Top 3 and grossing more than $11 million. The PG-rated movie tells the story of a boy who was thought dead after he plunged through an icy pond and didn’t have a pulse for 45 minutes. But when his mother began praying at the hospital, his heart started beating again. Even mainstream critics also liked Breakthrough– a rare feat for a faith-based film. Bilge Ebiri of The New York Times liked it, writing, “You don’t have to believe in divine intervention to be moved by this story.”

Number of Americans Attending Church Plummets

A new Gallup report found that only half of Americans say they belong to a church or other religious body, down from 69% two decades earlier. Most of the decline is tied to the rise of the so-called “nones” — those who claim no religious affiliation. Gallup found that the share of Americans who claim a religious identity declined from 90% to 77% in recent decades. At the turn of the century, Gallup said, 73% of religious Americans belonged to a house of worship. That’s dropped to 64% today. The poll found that 68% of “traditionalists” — which Gallup identifies as those born before 1945 — are part of a church or other religious body. That percentage has declined from 78% two decades ago. Just 42 percent of millennials are members of churches, on average, according to the report.

Many Catholics Leaving the Church Over Sexual Abuse Scandal

The Catholic Church in the U.S. is at a crossroads. As millions of devout followers filled the pews this Easter season to celebrate the religion’s most important holiday, others have either quit the church or are considering doing so because of the church’s handling of the decades-long sex abuse crisis that’s resulted in young children being raped and abused by priests who were often protected by their superiors. Seven months after a damning grand jury report in Pennsylvania revealed that 1,000 children had been abused at the hands of more than 300 priests, and as state attorneys general across the nation investigate the church, a Gallup poll published in March found that 37% of U.S. Catholics are considering leaving the church because of the sex abuse crisis and the church’s handling of it. That’s up significantly from 2002, when just 22% of Catholics said they were contemplating leaving their religion after The Boston Globe published an explosive series that initially exposed the abuse and subsequent cover-up.

  • Catholicism opened itself up to destruction from the inside out due to its non-Biblical practices

7,819 Suspects Named in Boy Scout ‘Perversion Files’

The Boy Scouts of America “perversion files” contain the names of a staggering number of suspected pedophiles and their victims, an attorney revealed Tuesday. Jeff Anderson, represents former Scouts who say they were abused. The files show that there were 7,819 suspected perpetrators and 12,254 victims between 1944 and 2016. The number of suspected abusers and victims was revealed during a trial in January. Anderson said the alarming thing is not just the number, but “the fact is that the Boy Scouts of America has never actually released these names in any form that can be known to the public.” He said that the names of the suspects were not given to the public or the police, meaning that while they may have been banned from Scouting, they would have been free to gain access to children elsewhere. More than 200 individuals have come forward with new allegations of sexual abuse by members of the Boy Scouts of America in recent weeks as a trio of law firms seek to uncover unidentified child abusers.

U.S. History Textbook Portrays Trump as Mentally Ill, Racist

A new high-school American history textbook depicts President Donald Trump as mentally ill and castigates both him and his supporters as racist. Published by Pearson Education, “By the People: A History of the United States” will be used by many Advanced Placement students beginning in 2020, reports Todd Starnes. In the final section, titled “The Angry Election of 2016,” the book states Trump’s “not very-hidden racism connected with a significant number of primary voters.” The textbook further states that Clinton supporters “also worried about the mental stability of the president-elect and the anger that he and his supporters brought to the nation.” Starnes said a Pearson spokesman defended the textbook, arguing it underwent “rigorous peer review to ensure academic integrity.”

Kansas Supreme Court Rules Right to Abortion in State Constitution

The Kansas Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling against a ban on dismemberment abortion today, arguing that a right to abortion exists in the state constitution. According to National Public Radio (NPR), “The landmark ruling now stands as the law of the land in Kansas with no path for an appeal. Because it turns on the state’s Constitution, abortion would remain legal in Kansas even if the Roe v. Wade case that established a national right to abortion is ever reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court.” Mary Kay Culp, Executive Director of Kansans for Life, told LifeSiteNews that her next task in defending the unborn child would be amending the Kansas Constitution. In a press release, Culp stated that the Kansas Supreme Court had created the “broadest right” to abortion in the USA.

Judge Will Block Trump’s Rule Defunding Planned Parenthood

A federal judge appointed by pro-abortion President Barack Obama plans to keep taxpayer funding flowing to Planned Parenthood by blocking a new pro-life rule from the Trump administration. Pro-abortion attorneys general in 20 states and Washington, D.C. filed a lawsuit, arguing that the rule would hurt Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers and violate the Affordable Care Act. U.S. District Judge Michael McShane of Oregon said he plans to block the Trump administration from enforcing the rule, which takes effect May 3. He criticized the rule as a “ham-fisted approach to public health policy,”

Trump Withdraws U.S. From UN Arms Treaty

President Donald Trump on Friday announced at the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting that the United States will drop out of an international arms treaty signed in 2013 by then-President Barack Obama but opposed by the NRA and other conservative groups. The 193-nation U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly approved the treaty in April 2013 and the United States, the world’s No. 1 arms exporter, voted in favor of it. Trump told members of the gun lobby that he intends to revoke the status of the United States as a signatory of the Arms Trade Treaty, which was never ratified by the U.S. Senate. The NRA has long opposed the treaty which regulates the $70 billion business in conventional arms and seeks to keep weapons out of the hands of human rights abusers. The lobbying group argues it would undermine domestic gun rights, a view the Obama administration rejected. Trump’s action drew an immediate rebuke from some international human rights groups.

Court Ruling Upholds Off-Shore Drilling Ban

Environmental groups are cheering the indefinite delay of President Donald Trump’s controversial plan to expand oil and gas drilling off much of America’s shoreline, a program that’s a linchpin of his “energy dominance” agenda. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt told the Wall Street Journal Thursday that the recent court decision blocking drilling in the Arctic and parts of the Atlantic oceans could suspend the agency’s plan to open up as much as 90 percent of the Outer Continental Shelf for energy exploration over the next five years. A federal judge in Alaska last month threw out Trump’s 2017 executive order reversing drilling bans imposed by President Barack Obama in dozens of canyons in the Atlantic and vast parts of the Arctic to protect polar bears, walruses, ice seals as well as Alaska Native villages that depend on the animals.

Migrant Update

American high schools are churning out nearly 100,000 illegal immigrant “Dreamers” a year, according to a new study Wednesday that shows just how extensive the network of illegal immigrant families is in the U.S. The Migration Policy Institute’s research is the first in more than a decade to try to capture the size of the emergent Dreamer population, which is defined as illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as juveniles, lacking any immediate claims to legal status. MPI’s numbers show the population has grown, from about 65,000 a year in 2003 to 98,000 graduating each year now.

The Rand Corp. released a report Monday which estimates that Central American migrants paid as much as $2.3 billion to be smuggled into the U.S. in 2017. Rand made its calculations based on high and low estimates for migrants’ payments and then calculations of how many people actually made the journey. They limited their study to those from the Northern Triangle: the countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Rand identified four types of operators in the human smuggling trade, ranging from independent operators who offer their own services such as driving or guiding, all the way to formal networks run by a single kingpin who can monopolize a route of traffic. The formal networks, the organized smuggling cartels, are the most notorious. Homeland Security officials say those cartels either operate in coordination with, or are the same as, drug smuggling organizations. Yet Rand said it’s likely the less-formal networks and independent operators are the ones making the most money from human smuggling.

Central American migrants hoping to reach the U.S. are finding a much tougher trek than those in previous caravans, meeting unwelcoming townsfolk and a surprise raid. Mexican police and immigration agents detained hundreds of Central American migrants Monday in the largest single raid on a migrant caravan since the groups started moving through the country last year. Police targeted isolated groups at the tail end of a caravan of about 3,000 migrants who were making their way through the southern state of Chiapas with hopes of reaching the U.S. border. As migrants gathered under spots of shade in the burning heat outside the city of Pijijiapan, federal police and agents passed by in patrol trucks and vans and forcibly wrestled women, men and children into the vehicles. As many as 500 migrants might have been picked up in the raid, according to Associated Press journalists at the scene.

Driver Speeds into Pedestrians at California Shopping Center

A driver is in custody after speeding toward a crowd of pedestrians Tuesday, injuring eight, in what may be an intentional act, police say. The crash took place around 6:40 p.m. local time in Sunnyvale, Calif., near a shopping center. Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety said preliminary investigations show the driver — who is in custody — might have intentionally sped toward the pedestrians. Witnesses say that the vehicle didn’t try to veer away or slow down. New evidence shows that Isaiah Joel Peoples also targeted the crowd based on race The driver believed the people he assaulted were of the Muslim faith, police said.

Lost Angeles Continues its Reign As Nation’s Smoggiest City

California’s reign as the U.S. state with the worst air pollution continues as Los Angeles is again the nation’s smoggiest metro area, according to a report released Wednesday. LA isn’t alone when it comes to smog-choked cities in California: seven of the nation’s top 10 smoggiest cities are in the Golden State, including San Francisco, San Diego and Sacramento. The top six are all in California. Los Angeles has had the worst smog for 19 years of the 20-year history of the American Lung Association’s annual “State of the Air” report. Phoenix ranks seventh, Houston eighth and New York City tenth.

New York City to Require Buildings to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Buildings in New York City larger than 25,000 square feet will be required to cut greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030 under an ordinance approved last Thursday by the City Council and signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday. The buildings have to cut emissions by 80% by 2050. Buildings that fail to meet the targets could face fines of $268 for each ton of emissions exceeding permitted limits. The first of its kind law exempts or sets more lenient limits for houses of worship, single-family homes, hospitals, rent-controlled housing, New York City Housing Authority complexes, city buildings and power plants.

Measles Continues to Spread in U.S.

Measles cases in the United States have surpassed the highest number on record since the disease was declared eliminated nationwide in 2000. As of Monday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 626 individual cases of measles confirmed in those 22 states. This includes illnesses reported by state health departments to the CDC through April 19 and therefore does not include cases reported since then. President Donald Trump said Thursday that, “They have to get the shots. The vaccinations are so important. This is really going around now. They have to get their shots.” Previously, he had indicated concerns about vaccinations. More than 1,000 students and staff members at two Los Angeles universities were quarantined on campus or sent home this week in one of the most sweeping efforts yet by public health authorities to contain the spread of measles in the U.S.

Economic News

The US economy grew at a much better than expected rate in the first quarter, the Commerce Department reported Friday. The top-line number is a pleasant surprise in a quarter marked by a government shutdown, severe weather, Boeing’s troubles with the 737 Max, fears of an escalating trade war and the gradual fading of fiscal stimulus from tax cuts. The annual rate of 3.2% beat the 2.1% estimates and is a pleasant surprise in a quarter marked by a government shutdown, severe weather, Boeing’s troubles with the 737 Max, fears of an escalating trade war and the gradual fading of fiscal stimulus from tax cuts. Growth was driven in part by higher inventories, especially in the manufacturing industry, which can indicate that businesses are stockpiling goods rather than selling them.

U.S. stocks climbed past their all-time closing highs on Tuesday, as stocks continued to rally from their December lows. The S&P 500 reached 2933.68 points, breaking through the historical closing high of 2,930.75 points that it set in September. The Nasdaq nearly hit 8121 points, beating the 8,110 point all-time best close it hit in August. Stocks were driven higher Tuesday by stronger shares in the consumer goods, heath care and technology sectors.

Home sales are struggling to rebound after slumping in the second half of last year, when a jump in mortgage rates to nearly 5% discouraged many would-be buyers. Spring buying is so far running behind last year’s healthy gains, down 5.4%. On a year over year basis, existing home sales have now fallen for 13 months in a row.

African swine fever is plaguing China’s pork production. The disease is killing multitudes of animals, hitting the global pork supply chain, and driving up prices worldwide. China is one of the biggest producers of pork in the world, with around half of the meat’s global output. China’s pork production has fallen 10% this year. China normally accounts for 49% of global pork consumption. To meet China’s insatiable demand for pork products, the country is turning to imports, which are expected to hit a record high in 2019, driving up prices.

Sri Lanka

Ten civilians — including six children — are dead, along with six suspected terrorists, after a shootout between police and alleged militants in eastern Sri Lanka late Friday, authorities said. At least two suspected terrorists are on the run following an explosion that witnesses told CNN turned the house “into fire.” Police are investigating the possible relationship of the civilians to the suspected terrorists. Easter Sunday bomb blasts at three churches and four hotels in Sri Lanka killed at least 359 people (including several Americans) and wounded at least 500. Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said the Muslim extremist group, National Thowheed Jama’ath, was behind the attacks. “The preliminary investigations have revealed that what happened in Sri Lanka was in retaliation for the attack against Muslims in Christchurch,” Ruwan Wijewardene, Sri Lanka’s defense minister, told the country’s parliament. The Islamic State on Tuesday claimed responsibility for the bombings “in retaliation” for mass shootings at two mosques in New Zealand last month.” Some of the terrorists are still at large and may have more explosives.

A human rights activist noted that over the previous eleven Sundays, many church services had been harassed and disrupted. In addition, public anger is rising over reports that intelligence officials had warned of possible attacks. The chief of national intelligence had warned officials on April 4 about potential attacks from information gleaned from an ISIS informant and had provided the names of suspects five days later, the Guardian reports, but no action was taken.

Iran

The Trump administration told five nations, including allies Japan, South Korea and Turkey, that they will no longer be exempt from U.S. sanctions if they continue to import oil from Iran. The other nations are China and India. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Monday that the administration will not renew sanctions waivers for the five countries when they expire on May 2. It was not immediately clear if any of the five would be given additional time to wind down their purchases or if they would be subject to U.S. sanctions on May 3 if they do not immediately halt imports of Iranian oil.

North Korea

Two months after his second denuclearization summit with President Donald Trump broke down because of disputes over U.S. sanctions, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held his first ever face-to-face talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The two leaders met Thursday on Russky Island in eastern Russia, near the port city of Vladivostok. They pledged to boost ties and defuse tensions on the Korean Peninsula and Putin said North Korea was ready to denuclearize if given security guarantees. Putin called for the resumption of six-way talks on North Korea’s nuclear program. He stressed the need for multilateral cooperation to support Pyongyang. The six-way talks would include the two Koreas, plus China, Japan, Russia and the U.S. Kim told Russian President Vladimir Putin that he believes the United States acted in “bad faith” at the Hanoi summit

Russia

Russia has launched its new Belgorod submarine, which is designed to carry devastating underwater nuclear drones. Moscow’s development of nuclear-powered drones has been closely watched in recent years, amid concern that Russia could be adding a “doomsday” weapon capable of unleashing tidal waves to its arsenal. The Russian Navy said the submarine designed to carry Poseidon drones is set to enter service next year. The Poseidon can target coastal areas with a heavy nuclear weapon, causing a devastating tsunami wave. President Vladimir Putin has said its tests have been successful. The world got its first glimpse of Belgorod from images of the massive vessel’s stern captured during the launch ceremony in Severodvinsk.

Earthquakes

A 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck Monday about 38 miles northwest of Manila, the capital of the Philippines. The quake occurred at 5:11 p.m. local time and knocked down a four-story building in Porac town. Sixteen people died and about 20 people were rescued, some with injuries. At least eight people were killed in Pampanga province. Some tall buildings are leaning against each other in Manila. Hundreds of employees dashed out of office buildings, some wearing hard hats. Video captured water from a swimming pool at the Anchor Skysuites in Manila cascading down the side of the residential skyscraper. At Clark International Airport, seven people suffered minor injuries when a part of the ceiling at the check-in lobby collapsed. Flights were canceled and the airport was shut down.

The central Philippines were rocked by a second quake Tuesday of 6.4 magnitude. Tuesday’s quake was centered near Tutubigan in Eastern Samar province, about 350 miles southeast of Manila, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. There were no immediate reports of casualties or major damage from the new quake that struck at 1:37 p.m. local time.

Environment

Last Monday was Earth Day, the 49th time the day was celebrated. What has transpired over the past year? Global energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide jumped by 1.7% in 2018, reaching 33.1 metric gigatons, the highest levels ever recorded. March 2019 marked the 411th consecutive month with global temperatures above average. Earth’s glaciers lost up to 369 billion tons of ice and snow. One to five species normally go extinct annually. Scientists estimate species are disappearing now at 1,000 to 10,000 times the normal rate, with multiple extinctions daily. Earth saw 39 billion-dollar weather disasters in 2018. The U.S. had the most billion-dollar weather disasters in 2018 of any country, with 16. The Camp Fire was the costliest and deadliest wildfire in California’s history, killing 85 people and destroying more than 18,500 buildings.

  • End-time degradation of the planet will continue to ramp up, fulfilling Biblical prophesies of extreme weather, famine, disease (pestilence), powerful earthquakes and the loss of flora, fauna and wildlife on both land and sea (Matthew 24 and Revelation 6-18)

The Greenland Ice Sheet is the world’s second-largest reservoir of fresh water sitting on the world’s largest island. It contains enough water to refill the Great Lakes 115 times over. A new study finds that the melting Greenland Ice Sheet added a quarter inch of water to global sea levels in just the past eight years. The research, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, casts the transformation of the Greenland Ice Sheet as one of the profound geological shifts of our time. Greenland, according to the study, has lost 4,976 gigatons of water since 1972. More worryingly, the paper finds that Greenland lost about half of that ice—roughly 2,200 gigatons—in the years between 2010 and 2018. Greenland’s demise seems to be accelerating.

Weather

Storms tearing across Texas early Wednesday dumped heavy rain on the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, stranding motorists in the Dallas suburb of Carrollton and flooding a parking garage at Dallas’ Love Field Airport. Images posted to social media show cars submerged by at least 3 to 4 feet of water. In Midland, tennis ball-sized hail was reported early Wednesday. Nearly 22,000 homes and businesses were without power. Storms continued to march across the South Thursday after leaving behind significant damage and killing at least five people in Texas and Louisiana.

Heavy rains pounding South Africa this week have triggered flash flooding and mudslides that have killed at least 60 people, injured dozens more and prompted hundreds of evacuations. Extensive damage had been “inflicted on public and private infrastructure” throughout the province of KwaZulu-Natal, including Durban, Times Live reported. The extent of damage to infrastructure includes flooded and blocked roads, collapsed buildings and perimeter walls, blocked storm-water drains and sewer lines, flooded buildings and households, as well as power outages due to electrical cable damage.

At least 17 people are dead and five hospitalized after a landslide in Colombia. The landslide happened early Sunday morning in Rosas, a community in the rural southwestern Colombian state of Cauca. At least eight houses were destroyed, and a portion of the Pan-American Highway was blocked by the landslide. Unusually heavy rains were widespread across much of Colombia over the past month.

Mozambique residents are beginning the slow recovery process a day after Tropical Cyclone Kenneth slammed into the southern African nation, destroying homes, knocking out power and killing at least five people and destroying 3,500 homes. The powerful storm made landfall early Thursday at the northern end of Mozambique’s Quirimbas National Park, north of the city of Pemba, home to some 200,000 people. Four ships sank off the coast of Palma town, but no deaths were reported. The Category 4-equivalent storm also caused flooding and landslides in the Indian Ocean archipelago nation of Comoros where local authorities reported at least three deaths and more than 1,000 homes destroyed. Two others were killed on Ibo, a tourist island located north of Pemba in Quirimbas National Park and home to about 6,000 people, where 90 percent of homes were flattened. The tropical cyclone comes a little more than a month after the country was dealt a devastating blow by the deadliest and costliest storm in its history — Tropical Cyclone Idai, which killed more than 700 people, displaced tens of thousands and wiped away homes in the central city of Beira.

Signs of the Times

April 19, 2019

­Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. (Romans 8:35-37)

Nearly 2000 Churches in France have been Desecrated

While French authorities believe the blaze that destroyed the roof of the 850-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral was accidental, it has brought attention to the surge of attacks on Christian symbols in Europe. Nearly 2,000 Christian houses of worship in France have been desecrated in the past two years, according to police. In Germany, there were four such incidents in March. Some French politicians have attributed the church desecrations — averaging more than two a day — to “militant secularism.” But in virtually every attack across Europe, writes Raymond Ibrahim for the Gatestone Institute, “authorities and media obfuscate the identity of the vandals.” “In those rare instances when the Muslim (or “migrant”) identity of the destroyers is leaked, the desecraters are then presented as suffering from mental health issues,” he writes. The German website PI News noted that, “Hardly anyone writes and speaks about the increasing attacks on Christian symbols. There is an eloquent silence in both France and Germany about the scandal of the desecrations and the origin of the perpetrators.” Authorities avoid at all costs blaming migrants, the website said, many of them Muslim.

Discrimination Against Christians/Jews Up, Muslims/Gays Down

Discrimination against Jews and Christians has surged in the United States in the last few years, even as reported attacks against Muslims and gays has gone down slightly, according to a new survey by Pew Research. The share of Americans saying Jews face discrimination in the U.S. has increased substantially since late 2016,” the report said. “Today, 64 percent of Americans say Jews face at least some discrimination – a 20-percentage-point increase from 2016; the share saying Jews face ‘a lot’ of discrimination has nearly doubled, from 13 percent to 24 percent. The report also said 50 percent of Americans believe evangelical Christians face some discrimination, up from 42 percent just a few years ago. Among Muslims, 56 percent say they face a lot of discrimination, down from 57 percent. Among gays and lesbians, 42 percent say they face a lot of discrimination, down from 43 percent.

Banks Shutting Down Accounts of Christian Organizations/Churches

Pastor Steven Anderson of the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona said Monday on YouTube that Bank of America shut down all the bank accounts of his church. “They’re supposedly going to send us a cashier’s check in like two weeks for all the money that was in our church bank account but in the meantime, they just took all our money away,” Anderson said. Anderson has attracted controversy over the years due to his fundamentalist preaching on homosexuality. Enrique Tarrio, who is the Chairman of the Proud Boys fraternal organization, had his personal Chase bank account shut down abruptly as well. The Proud Boys, despite simply being a fraternal organization that believes in Western culture, have been smeared as a white-nationalist hate group, despite Tarrio being black. Conservative commentator Martina Markota had her business account closed by Chase Bank as did conservative activist Joe Biggs, although that decision was later reversed after widespread outrage.

  • Hold on to your faith, folks, because homegrown persecution of all things Christian is just ramping up.

Since “Unplanned” Movie Released, 94 Abortion Clinic Workers to Quit

Abby Johnson’s powerful conversion story is moving hearts inside the abortion industry. Chuck Konzelman, who is a co-writer/co-director of “Unplanned,” the new film detailing Johnson’s life, said 94 abortion workers have reached out to them in the past few weeks because they are thinking about quitting. Johnson quit her job at Planned Parenthood a decade ago after watching an ultrasound-guided abortion and seeing the unborn baby fight for its life. Now, she runs a ministry called And Then There Were None, which provides support for abortion industry workers who want to quit.

NC Gov. Vetoes Care for Babies Born Alive after Failed Abortion

North Carolina Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed legislation Thursday morning that would require abortionists to provide basic medical care to newborns who survive failed abortions, just days after the measure cleared the state legislature. The North Carolina Senate approved Senate Bill 359 on Monday and the state House approved it on Tuesday. It requires infants born alive after attempted abortions to be guaranteed the “same claim to the protection of the law that would arise for any newborn, or for any person who comes to a hospital, clinic, or other facility.” Violators would be guilty of a Class D felony and face a fine of up to $250,000. “Laws already protect newborn babies, and this bill is an unnecessary interference between doctors and their patients,” Cooper claimed. “This needless legislation would criminalize doctors and other health care providers for a practice that simply does not exist.”

Teen Girls Stage School Walkout Over Transgenders Boys in Bathroom

Students in Council Bluffs, Iowa, staged a walkout at Abraham Lincoln High School over bathroom privacy, with the protest being sparked by a girl who stated that her privacy was violated by a biological male who “recently began to identify as a girl” using the female bathroom. She was joined by about twenty other high school girls who left the school at 10:30 AM and began “chanting for privacy in restrooms, saying they don’t want boys transitioning into being girls to be in the restroom with them.” The 20 girls demanding privacy were confronted by nearly 40 students of mixed gender chanting in favor of state law, which requires schools to allow students to use whichever bathroom they feel most comfortable with.

More Than 10,000 Illegals in U.S. from Terrorist Countries

More than 10,000 illegal aliens from countries designated as state sponsors of terrorism are living in the United States, according to federal data. The countries of origin include Iran, North Korea, Syria and Sudan, said the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI). The illegal aliens either have been ordered deported or have pending deportation orders, despite remaining in the U.S. Of the 10,000 from terror-sponsoring countries, about 6,000 are from Iran. California, a “sanctuary” state that shields illegal aliens from federal immigration authorities, has the largest population of Iranians outside of Iran. A total of more than 1.7 million illegal aliens remain in the U.S. despite having been ordered deported or having pending deportation orders. IRLI Executive Director Dale Wilcox said many of these could be part of terrorist sleeper cells, “We saw on 9/11 the damage that only 19 sleeper-cell terrorists could cause.”

Minneapolis’ Somali Community the Terrorist Recruitment Capital in U.S.

More men and boys from a Somali American community in Minneapolis have joined – or attempted to join – a foreign terrorist organization over the last 12 years than any other jurisdiction in the country. FBI stats show 45 Somalis left to join the ranks of either the Somalia-based Islamic insurgency al-Shabab, or the Iraq- and Syria-based ISIS combined. And as of 2018, a dozen more had been arrested with the intention of leaving to support ISIS. Both numbers are far higher than those of alleged terrorist wannabes who left or attempted to leave the country from other areas of the country where Muslim refugees have been resettled. In the case of the Somalis, it’s no longer just the men. Early last year, a female was apprehended by authorities on charges of supporting providing material support to Al Qaeda and arson.

Court Rejects White House Bid to Block California ‘Sanctuary’ Laws

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously Thursday that most of three California sanctuary laws limiting cooperation with federal immigration authorities can continue to be enforced, rejecting the bulk of a suit brought by the Trump administration. The judges upheld the most contentious law, Senate Bill 54, which prohibits police and sheriff’s officials from notifying immigration authorities when immigrant inmates are released from prison. In the opinion, Judge Milan D. Smith Jr. wrote: “We have no doubt that makes the jobs of federal immigration authorities more difficult.” However, he added that the law “does not directly conflict with any obligations” placed on state or local governments by federal law “because federal law does not mandate any state action.” The court also upheld a California law, Assembly Bill 450, mandating that employers alert employees of any upcoming federal immigration inspection share the inspection results with employees who may not be authorized to work in the U.S. Judge Smith, who was nominated to the federal bench by George W. Bush, ruled that the state law “imposes no additional or contrary obligations that undermine or disrupt the activities of federal immigration authorities.”

Trump Administration Settles Lawsuit to Reunite Children

The Trump administration settled a federal lawsuit on Friday that could pave the way for thousands of Central American families to reunite with their families in the U.S., according to federal court documents. The lawsuit, filed in San Francisco, challenged the ending of the Central American Minors program, which helped minors from  El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras gain entry into the U.S. for refugee resettlement. The program, which was started in 2014, was ended under President Donald Trump in 2017. The program’s ending left 2,714 children in limbo as they had already been approved for the program but had not yet gained entry into the U.S. The settlement allows the government to continue processing these minors and, if approved, would allow them to reunite with family in the U.S. The settlement still needs to be approved by a judge.

Visa Overstays a Bigger Immigration Crisis Than Mexico Border

Visa overstays have a more significant impact on immigration than illegal border crossings, The Atlantic reports. Robert Warren, the former director of the statistics division of Immigration and Naturalization Service, and currently a senior visiting fellow at the Center for Migration Studies, found that visa overstays outnumber border crossings by a 2 to 1 margin. visa overstays have outnumbered illegal border crossings every year for the past seven years. The Center for Migration Studies found in a report that about 515,000 people arrived in this country illegally in 2016, and that about three-fifths of those, 320,000, overstayed their visas, while the rest entered by illegally crossing the border. The Atlantic notes that this number is a small fraction of the over 50 million people who legally enter the U.S. with valid visas.

Migrant Update

Yuma, a city on the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona, declared a state of emergency Tuesday, saying it cannot handle the crush of illegal immigrants the government is being forced to release onto its streets. Mayor Douglas Nicholls said the migrants are being released by the Border Patrol into his community faster than they can leave, and local shelters are already at capacity. He warned of mobs of people “roaming the streets looking to satisfy basic human needs,” clashing with citizens looking to protect their own property. The move was designed to draw the attention of the country to what locals said was an untenable situation and to beg for solutions from the federal government, which has been at a political stalemate over what to do.

At least 13% of the federal prison population and nearly 30% of those in custody of the U.S. Marshals Service are illegal immigrants, according to new 2018 numbers released by the Justice Department Wednesday. All told, nearly 60,000 people in Justice Department custody were known or suspected to be aliens. Of those, about 38,000 were held in prison, accounting for about 21% of the overall population. Nearly two-thirds were confirmed to be illegal immigrants and most of the rest are still under investigation for their status. Only a tiny fraction of the aliens had legal status.

Some illegal immigrants who are about to be deported must be held without bond as their deportation cases play out, Attorney General William Barr has ruled. Barr concluded that illegals who fit certain criteria after applying for asylum will not be eligible for release during the deportation process. The decision reverses a ruling dating back to 2005 that allowed bond to be instituted if the deportation subjects could demonstrate a legitimate fear of either persecution or danger should they leave the United States. In most cases, those migrants are released into the U.S. as they await an asylum hearing — a process that generally takes years.

The Trump administration wants to open two new tent facilities to temporarily detain up to 1,000 parents and children near the southern border, as advocates sharply criticize the conditions inside the tents already used to hold migrants. U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a notice to potential contractors that it wants to house 500 people in each camp in El Paso, Texas, and in the South Texas city of Donna, which has a border crossing with Mexico. Each facility would consist of one large tent that could be divided into sections by gender and between families and children traveling alone, according to the notice. Detainees would sleep on mats. There would also be laundry facilities, showers, and an “additional fenced-in area” for “outside exercise/recreation.” The notice says the facilities could open in the next two weeks and operate through year end, with a cost that could reach $37 million.

A militia group near the U.S.-Mexico border detained hundreds of people this week, New Mexico’s attorney general said. “My office has been informed that this week, an armed group has detained nearly 300 people at gunpoint near Sunland Park, New Mexico,” Attorney General Hector Balderas said in a written statement. “These individuals should not attempt to exercise authority reserved for law enforcement.” Migrants were held by the United Constitutional Patriots group and then handed over to the U.S. Border Patrol. The New York Times reported that a spokesman for the militia group said their actions were legal, “comparing the detention of the migrants to ‘a verbal citizen’s arrest.'”

Measles Accelerates to Second-Highest Level in U.S. in 25 Years

The number of measles cases in the United States made its biggest jump of the year, with 90 new cases reported in just one week, according to numbers released Monday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With 555 total cases, 2019 now has the second-highest number of measles cases in the United States in 25 years — and the year isn’t even half over. Measles isn’t just rising in the United States. The World Health Organization reported Monday there were more than 110,000 measles cases worldwide in the first three months of 2019 — an increase of nearly 300% from the same period last year. The actual number of measles cases is likely higher, as WHO estimates that less than 1 in 10 cases globally are reported to the agency. About 1 out of every 1,000 children who gets measles will develop encephalitis or swelling of the brain, according to the CDC. This can lead to convulsions and leave a child deaf or with an intellectual disability.

‘Red Flag’ Gun Laws Sparking Controversy

Colorado became the 15th state on Friday to adopt a “red flag” gun law, allowing firearms to be seized from people determined to pose a danger — just weeks after dozens of county sheriffs had vowed not to enforce the law, with some local leaders establishing what they called Second Amendment “sanctuary counties.” The law didn’t receive a single Republican vote in the state legislature, and has led to renewed efforts from gun-rights activists to recall Democrats who supported the measure. In a fiery and lengthy statement on Facebook on Friday, Eagle County, Colo., Sheriff James van Beek slammed the law as a well-intentioned but “ludicrous.” Van Beek charged that the law treats accused gun owners like “criminals,” discourages individuals from seeking mental health treatment, and ignores the reality that “a disturbed mind will not be deterred by the removal of their guns.”

The Number Of Children Per Household Is Shrinking

The Royal Bank of Canada notes that almost all countries are set to experience a decline in the number of children per household in the 2000 – 2030 period. More specifically, looking from 2015 out to 2030, Euromonitor expects developed markets to have a ~20% decline in the number of children per household and developing markets a ~15% decline. In fact, as the Canadian bank points out, it was as recently as 2012 when the number of couples without children globally surpassed the number of those with children.

Economic News

The “retail apocalypse” seemingly is only getting worse with store closures this year reportedly already exceeding the total for 2018. Coresight Research, which tracks store openings and closings, said Friday retailers have announced 5,994 store closures and 2,641 store openings as of early April. That compares to 5,864 closures and 3,239 openings for the full year 2018. The number of closures indicates that traditional retailers are struggling to respond to shoppers’ increasing shift online even as they’re working hard to reinvent their businesses.

Under President Trump’s new tax law, 60 of America’s biggest corporations paid $0 in federal taxes in 2018, despite earning billions of dollars in profits, reports Fox Business. Amazon Opens a New Window. , Netflix Opens a New Window. , General Motors Opens a New Window. , Chevron, JetBlue, IBM and U.S. Steel were all among the companies that avoided taxes last year using a diverse array of loopholes and tax breaks, according to a new report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a nonpartisan think-tank. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act kept intact most of the tax breaks that allow profitable companies to zero out what they owe.

One of the central features of President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was a drop in the corporate income tax rate, from 35% to 21%. Even though plenty of companies never paid that full rate because of various exemptions, the decrease still took a big bite out of corporate tax collections. They plunged from a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of $264 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017 to $149 billion in 2018, when the new rules went into effect, and they haven’t bounced back. As a share of the U.S. economy, corporate taxes fell from 1.33% in the fourth quarter of 2017 to 0.77% in the fourth quarter of 2018. Those were both down from about 2% in 2000. As a result of both the business and personal income tax cuts, households making between $500,000 and $1 million will see their after-tax income rise by an average of 5.2%. Households making less than $50,000 (the median income is $61,372 in the U.S.) see only a 0.6% increase.

Middle East

ImageSat International (ISI) released a series of images on Sunday showing extensive damage to a Syrian military base that Syria’s official state news agency SANA attributed to an Israeli airstrike on Friday evening. ISI’s photos show several destroyed structures, including a hangar and a number of other buildings, near Masyaf in the Hama province. This area has been identified in the past as a breeding ground for Iranian troops and the Lebanon-based terror proxy, Hezbollah. Following the strike, the buildings were identified as missile production facilities. The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights issued a report announcing that a number of Iranian fighters and pro-Iranian troops were killed in the attack. In addition, 17 people were also reported injured. Iran has attempted to establish a military stronghold on Israel’s doorstep. The Jewish state has identified Iranian entrenchment in Syria as a red line it will not tolerate, and has backed up the position with hundreds of strikes in Syrian territory over the past two years, many of which have targeted Iranian forces.

Islamic State

The number of suspected foreign ISIS fighters being detained by U.S.-backed forces in Syria has now surpassed 2,000, with a small number claiming to be US citizens, three U.S. officials told CNN. The foreigners are among the more than 9,000 ISIS fighters being held by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, with the majority of those being Syrian and Iraqi nationals. An additional 60,000 of what the US government refers to as ISIS “affiliates” are staying in make-shift camps where the SDF has a security presence. “These are women and children who have chosen to stay, or were coerced to stay as part of the ISIS caliphate that remained,” a senior US defense official told CNN.

ISIS-affiliated terrorists in Afghanistan, noted for their brutality in a brutal land, pose the top threat for spectacular attacks in the United States, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official. The group known as ISIS-K, like al-Qaeda, which plotted the 9/11 terror attacks from Afghanistan, also has designs on striking targets in Western nations. ISIS-K has hundreds of fighters and has shown increasing effectiveness in its tactics and recruiting in Afghanistan, said Sen. Jack Reed, the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee who recently visited Afghanistan. Inspiring, financing and directing attacks abroad is a key goal. A chief worry: a terrorist recruit, for example, driving a truck through a crowd in the United States, the intelligence official said, citing the type of assault the group aspires to. About 14,000 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan, half of them assigned to counter-terrorism missions, including combating ISIS-K militants.

North Korea

President Donald Trump said relations with Kim Jong Un remain “very good” and he opened the door Saturday for a third summit, hours after the North Korean leader said he’s willing to meet as long as the U.S. offers acceptable terms for a deal by year end. Kim said he wouldn’t welcome a repeat of the Hanoi summit in February, when Trump walked out without securing a nuclear disarmament deal. While Kim hailed his relationship with Trump, he also said the U.S. has been making unilateral demands and should abandon that approach. “They want to see the U.S. make the next move — that the steps that they took, such as returning war remains and shutting down missile sites, are even more grounds to demand the U.S. to relieve sanctions,” said Kim Hyun-wook, a professor at the Korean National Diplomatic Academy. Kim also asked that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo be pulled from negotiations. The Kremlin announced Kim will visit Russia this month, offering President Vladimir Putin an opportunity to emerge as a broker in the long-running nuclear standoff.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspected and directed a “new tactical guided weapons firing test” Wednesday, according to a report from the country’s state media. The report, from news agency KCNA, did not state exactly what kind of weapon was tested, nor its potential range. No missile launch was detected by US Northern Command and Strategic Command, according to US Department of Defense officials. “The development and completion of this weapons system will be a great historic event in strengthening the combat capability of the People’s Army,” Kim said, according to KCNA. However, U.S. intelligence officials do not believe North Korea successfully launched a fully operational new weapon. Their initial that assessment is North Korea tested components for an anti-tank weapon, rather than a fully operational new weapon.

Yemen

President Trump formally vetoed a measure that would force his administration to end U.S. military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. The veto, the second of Trump’s presidency, overrode a bipartisan measure earlier this month that would have stopped the U.S. from providing logistical, intelligence and targeting assistance to Saudi Arabia in the conflict with Yemen. The resolution served as a rebuke to Trump and Saudi leaders and highlighted a growing unease with America’s role in the grisly conflict, which has left thousands of civilians dead and millions of Yemenis on the brink of starvation. Currently, the U.S. provides billions of dollars of arms, but no troops, to the Saudi-led coalition fighting against Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen. The war in Yemen is a proxy battle between Saudi Arabia and Iran, as the two regimes battle for influence in the region.

Northern Ireland

The dissident republican group the New IRA was most likely responsible for the fatal shooting of a journalist during overnight rioting in the city of Londonderry, police in Northern Ireland said Friday. The Police Service of Northern Ireland said 29-year-old journalist and author Lyra McKee died after she was shot during rioting in the Creggan area. A gunman also fired a number of shots at police during the unrest Thursday evening. “We believe this to be a terrorist act,” Hamilton said. “We believe it has been carried out by violent dissident republicans.” A murder investigation has been launched but there have been no arrests. There has been an increase in tensions in Northern Ireland in recent months with sporadic violence, much of it focused in Londonderry. The New IRA is a small group of republicans who reject the 1998 Good Friday agreement that marked the Irish Republican Army’s embrace of a political solution to the long-running violence known as “The Troubles” that claimed more than 3,700 lives. I

Venezuela

Underpaid, underfed and humiliated by the autocratic turn their country had taken, the armed forces were the linchpin of the Trump administration’s strategy to get the ruling government to step aside. Some U.S. officials predicted they would flip en masse within days. That hasn’t happened. Venezuela’s military, despite U.S. expectations, has not turned on President Maduro, which has enabled him to stay in power despite the poor economy, high inflation and drop in oil revenue. Even as thousands of people can’t find basic necessities, and many risk their lives to leave the country, Maduro tenaciously clings to power.

Cocaine trafficking from Venezuela to the United States is soaring, even as the country collapses. And U.S. and other regional officials say it’s Venezuela’s own military and political elite who are facilitating the passage of drugs in and out of the country on hundreds of tiny, unmarked planes. The number of suspected drug flights from Venezuela has risen from about two flights per week in 2017 to nearly seven in 2018, according to one U.S. official. This year, the same official has seen as many as five nighttime flights in the sky at once. Officials involved in combating the deadly trade describe a tremendously profitable courier system for the Venezuelan government.

Earthquakes

Between 2008 and 2017, Southern California was hit by 1.8 million earthquakes, 10 times more than previously thought, said a new study. Seismologists at the California Institute of Technology found approximately 180,000 earthquakes had been recorded during that time. Data showed the region experiences 495 quakes a day, or roughly one every three minutes. However, the reason these quakes are just being discovered is they’re too small to notice. Researchers say the temblors are tough to find because seismic data also includes background noise such as building construction and shaking from traffic. Researchers used an array of powerful computers to scan the earthquake catalog and verify the new earthquakes.

Weather

At least three people died Thursday as severe thunderstorms that marched across the southern U.S. spawned tornadoes, knocked trees into homes, blew over cars and caused roads to flood. The line of severe weather damaged homes, made travel difficult and left tens of thousands of customers without power as it moved from Texas and Louisiana into Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. There were reports of nine tornadoes in Mississippi. By Friday morning, the storms were moving through Tennessee, Georgia and Florida on a trek east. There is a strong risk of damaging winds from the storms that will sweep through Virginia and the Carolinas later Friday. Nearly 100,000 homes and businesses across five states were without power early Friday.

More than 100 people are dead in India and Pakistan after powerful storms unleashed dust, lightning, hail, rain and high winds. The Times of India reported that at least 64 people had died during severe thunderstorms in India. Most of those died from lightning strikes or electrocution. Homes were damaged, trees uprooted and power lines knocked down in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan states. There was also reported damage to crops by heavy rains and hail. In Pakistan, at least 39 people were killed and 135 injured in torrential rainfalls. At least 80 houses were damaged, and there were several reports of roofs and walls collapsing, with the worst of the impacts in Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Signs of the Times

April 12, 2019

­Surely, He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. (Psalm 91:3-6)

Antimicrobial Resistance a Growing Threat

Global leaders met at the United Nationals General Assembly in New York Wednesday to address what experts are calling one of the biggest threats to global health: antimicrobial resistance, AMR occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites become resistant to the drugs typically used to treat people infected by them. There are now many infections that cannot be treated at all, the panel said. Superbugs are killing about 33,000 people in Europe every year. Drug-resistant bacteria are expected to kill 10 million people a year by 2050 if nothing is done to solve the problem. These superbugs developed because antimicrobials are overprescribed and people buy them over the counter in certain countries. In addition, people don’t finish courses of treatment and the antibiotics are overused in veterinary practices. Another large-scale use of antimicrobials — mostly antibiotics — has been in farming, to promote animal growth. Antimicrobials are overprescribed and people buy them over the counter in certain countries. Drugs are shared, people don’t finish courses of treatment and antibiotics are overused in veterinary practices. Another large-scale use of antimicrobials — mostly antibiotics — has been in farming, to promote animal growth.

Pope Benedict Criticizes Vatican Handling of Abuse

An open letter from Pope Emeritus Benedict that blames the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse crisis on homosexuality and the sexual revolution of the 1960s is drawing deep criticism from Catholic theologians in the U.S. who call it divisive and “embarrassingly wrong.” “Among the freedoms that the Revolution of 1968 sought to fight for was this all-out sexual freedom, one which no longer conceded any norms,” Benedict writes in a lengthy treatise released Wednesday in his native Germany. “Pedophilia was then also diagnosed as allowed and appropriate.” James Bretzke, a theology professor at Marquette University, calls the pedophilia claim puzzling, saying pedophilia has never been accepted by “anyone anywhere close to the cultural mainstream.” Benedict says expanded access to pornography helped fuel the crisis. At about the same time period, Catholic moral theology suffered a collapse that left the church ill-equipped to combat the trend, he added. “In various seminaries, homosexual cliques were established, which acted more or less openly and significantly changed the climate in the seminaries,” writes Benedict, who ceded his reign to Pope Francis six years ago.

Ohio Passes Heartbeat Abortion Bill

Ohio lawmakers just passed a bill to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, part of a nationwide crusade to undo the U.S. Supreme Court’s protection of abortion rights. Republican Gov. Mike DeWine promptly signed the abortion ban, which is one of the nation’s strictest. The so-called “heartbeat bill,” which prohibits abortions as early as six weeks into a woman’s pregnancy, has been endorsed by Vice President Mike Pence and is seen as a credible threat to the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade, which opened the floodgates to abortion on demand. Arkansas, North Dakota, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi and Georgia have passed versions of the heartbeat bill, and the legislation is pending in 11 other states.

Federal Appeals Court Upholds KY ‘Ultrasound’ Abortion Law

Pro-lifers in Kentucky won a victory Thursday when a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the state’s law requiring abortionists to give women the opportunity to view ultrasound images of their children before abortion. Kentucky’s Republican Gov. Matt Bevin said, “We applaud the decision by the Sixth Circuit, which affirms the commonsense notion that patients should be well equipped with relevant information before making important medical decisions.” Enacted in 2017, Kentucky’s Ultrasound Informed Consent Act requires abortionists to perform ultrasounds prior to committing abortions, display and explain the images, play the audio of any fetal heartbeat, and offer women the opportunity to view the images. It does not force women to view them.

North Dakota Bans ‘Dismemberment’ Abortions

North Dakota’s governor signed a bill Wednesday outlawing a grisly abortion procedure in which an unborn baby is dismembered, limb by limb, until the uterus is empty. The signature by Republican Gov. Doug Burgum made North Dakota the 11th state to ban a procedure medically known as dilation and evacuation, according to the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute. Most similar laws, though, have been blocked in court. The law includes an exception for a medical emergency. It goes into effect when a court allows its enforcement or when the U.S. Supreme Court “restores to the states authority to prohibit abortion.”

Pennsylvania School Board Okays “In God We Trust” in Schools

The Greencastle-Antrim School Board in Greencastle, PA has voted unanimously to allow the national motto “In God We Trust” and other documents from U.S. history to be displayed in foyers and other public areas of the district’s primary, elementary, middle and high schools. Teachers can also place the motto in their classrooms, as well, along with copies of the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence. The board also said it decided to display the motto and documents because they serve patriotic, historical, educational and solemnizing purposes.

“Unplanned” in Top Ten Again

The pro-life movie “Unplanned” finished in the top 10 at the box office for the second weekend in a row, overcoming an “R” rating and what the film’s supporters have called a media blackout. So far, it’s earned more than $12 million, doubling the $6 million production budget. “Unplanned” is centered on the life of former Planned Parenthood Director Abby Johnson who later became pro-life. “It’s a little surreal, if I’m honest, to watch someone play out the worst version of yourself in a film. But it’s also just a good reminder that God can literally use anything from our past and use it for His glory and use it for His Kingdom,” she said.

FDA Mounts Aggressive Push to Regulate Stem-Cell Clinics

The Food and Drug Administration has launched a nationwide crackdown on stem-cell clinics, issuing letters of warning and threatening civil actions that could shut them down if they refuse to comply with FDA regulations. On Wednesday, the FDA sent correspondence to 20 clinics around the country, putting them on notice that they must seek FDA review and approval for their procedures. The regulatory crackdown is a paradigm change for more than 700 stem-cell clinics nationwide that have largely gone unregulated by federal authorities for over a decade. The FDA has filed civil actions against two clinics, one in Florida and another in California, in a bid to force them to comply with FDA regulatory regimes applied to major drug manufacturers. That would likely be unsustainable for small practices. Advocates for regenerative stem-cell medicine charge that Big Pharma’s influence is behind the crackdown, suggesting the FDA is being used to clear out potential competitors. They describe stem-cell therapy as a minimally invasive procedure best regulated by local medical boards.

Pentagon’s Transgender Policy Takes Effect Friday

A Pentagon policy set to go into effect Friday bars from service anyone requiring treatment for dissatisfaction with their gender identity. Implementation of the policy concerning the medical condition known as gender dysphoria was pushed by President Donald Trump and blasted by Democrats including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said the policy “had no place in our country.” It had been delayed by court challenges. Currently serving troops who have been treated will be allowed to continue serving. Transgender troops must serve in their sex at birth, and must file for waivers for use of showers, bathrooms, physical fitness and other standards, according to the policy.

Mainstream Media Changes Their Tune on Border Crisis

Months after repeatedly dismissing and mocking President Trump’s claim of a national emergency at the Southern U.S. border, the mainstream media are grappling with reality, with no less than The New York Times declaring the border crisis at “breaking point.” The Washington Post’s editorial board said “there is no crisis” at the border and called Trump’s national emergency declaration “untethered from truth and reality” and a “make-believe emergency.” Fast forward, the same media outlets are now scrambling to accurately portray the border crisis, no longer fearing to quote top officials and their data, and declare that the southern border is at a “breaking point” amid a surge in the number of illegal immigrant crossings. The Times story claims that a “breaking point” has been reached in America’s immigration system, which is no longer able to cope with the unprecedented levels of illegal immigration. “The country is now unable to provide either the necessary humanitarian relief for desperate migrants or even basic controls on the number and nature of who is entering the United States,” the story notes. The Post also ran  article titled “U.S. has hit ‘breaking point’ at border amid immigration surge, Customs and Border Protection chief says.”

Judge blocks Trump’s Wait-in-Mexico Asylum Policy

A federal judge ordered the Trump administration to stop its new policy of sending asylum-seekers who jumped the border back to Mexico to wait while their cases proceed, ruling Monday that the plan was likely illegal. Known informally as the “wait-in-Mexico policy,” and officially as the Migrant Protection Protocols, the plan was a major part of the administration’s moves to try to stem the flow of immigrants crossing into the U.S. illegally. Judge Richard Seeborg, an Obama appointee to the bench, said not only does the policy violate immigration law, but Mexico is so dangerous that making asylum-seekers wait there — even if they’re not from Mexico — is untenable. He gave the government until Friday to appeal, and then his ruling will take effect. Any appeal would go to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is the court President Trump regularly bashes, arguing it is biased against him.

Border Update

A caravan-size influx of migrants is flooding across the border each week in just a single sector, a top Border Patrol official told lawmakers Tuesday — the latest indicator of the growing migration crisis on the southern border. Karisch said his sector has apprehended people from 50 different countries, including China, Bangladesh, Turkey, Egypt and Romania. “People are traveling across hemispheres to attempt to illegally enter the U.S., using the same pathways as the Central Americans,” he said. Karisch noted that Border Patrol has apprehended more families illegally crossing the border in the first five months of fiscal 2019 than during all of fiscal 2018. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) apprehended more than 76,000 migrants across the border in February and said it was on track to apprehend more than 100,000 in March.

President Trump said on Wednesday he would have to mobilize more of the military at the U.S. border with Mexico after listening to stories about migrants crossing the border. The president said some of the people crossing the border were ending up dead from the journey on Americans’ ranches. “Also, they come in and raid their houses, and it’s very dangerous,” Trump said, referring to locals affected by the influx of migrants. There are currently about 5,000 active-duty and National Guard troops near the border. In February, Trump deployed an additional 3,750 U.S. troops to the country’s southwestern border to support Customs and Border Protection agents. Later that month, Democratic governors of states including Wisconsin, New Mexico and California withdrew their National Guard troops, saying there was not enough evidence of a security crisis to justify keeping them there.

Aging Population & Declining Birthrate Creating Shrinking Workforce

The Congressional Budget Office foresees the American labor force rising by only 0.5 percent a year over the coming decade, about one-third as fast as from 1950 to 2007. That is a crucial reason that economic growth is forecast to remain well below its late 20th-century levels. There are now 2.8 workers for every recipient of Social Security benefits, a rate on track to fall to 2.2 by 2035, according to the program’s trustees. In 1940, the ratio was 159.4 workers per recipient, shrinking to 5.1 in 1960, and 3.4 in 2000. Population growth in the United States has now hit its lowest level since 1937, partly because of a record-low fertility rate “I believe our biggest threat is our declining labor force,” said Gov. Phil Scott of Vermont, a Republican, in his annual budget address this year. “It’s the root of every problem we face.

Congress Approves Colorado River Drought Plan

A plan to address a shrinking supply of water on a river that serves 40 million people in the U.S. West was approved by the U.S. House and Senate Monday. Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming spent years negotiating the Colorado River drought contingency plan. They aim to keep two key reservoirs from falling so low they cannot deliver water or produce hydropower. Mexico has promised to store water in Lake Mead on the Arizona-Nevada border if the U.S. legislation is approved by April 22. Arizona and Nevada would keep water in Lake Mead when it falls to certain levels. The cuts eventually would loop in California if Lake Mead’s level drops far enough. State water managers and federal officials have cited a prolonged drought, climate change and increasing demand for the river’s flows as reasons to cut back on water usage. The agreement runs through 2026.

Number of Suicidal Children’s Visits to ER Doubles

The number of children and teens in the United States who visited emergency rooms for suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts doubled between 2007 and 2015, according to a new analysis. Researchers used publicly available data from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, administered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diagnoses increased from 580,000 in 2007 to 1.12 million in 2015. The findings come as no surprise to child psychiatrists. One reason for the increase in depression and suicidal behaviors is more stress and pressure on kids, said Dr. Gene Beresin, executive director of The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital and professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Parents and caregivers are also more stressed, Beresin said, adding that rates of suicides have increased in all age groups over the past 20 years and that the stress is passed down to children and teens.

U.S. Leads In Healthcare Costs, But Not Healthiness

Health care costs are growing faster than the rest of the global economy, according to the World Health Care Organization (WHO). The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a group of 34 predominantly rich countries, leads the world in healthcare expenditures, and the U.S. spends the most per capita of these wealthy countries. A third of the  OECD countries spend more than $2,000 per person each year on health care. The 12 countries with the highest health care costs, spend about twice that amount. The differences between countries is staggering, ranging from $8,047 per person in the U.S. to just $541 in the OECD country with the lowest health care expenses per capita (Turkey). Despite spending the most, the U.S. ranks 37th out of 185 countries in overall health, according to WHO.

Middle Class Shrinking Worldwide

Middle-income households are disappearing in developed countries around the world, according to a new report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. The OECD warned that this could have serious consequences for nations’ economic growth and social fabric. The middle class has been under stress for years, helping fuel the rise of progressive Democrats in the United States, who are seeking to increase taxes on the rich to provide a stronger safety net — including universal health care. But while many presidential candidates point to Europe as a model, the OECD report shows that problems exist there too. The share of people in middle-income households in developed countries fell from 64% in the mid-1980s to 61% by the mid-2010s. However, the declines were larger in several countries, including the United States, Israel, Germany, Canada, Finland and Sweden. In the United States, just over 50% of the population is middle class, much smaller than most other developed countries. The report considers households earning between 75% and 200% of the median national income as middle class. Costs are going up faster than inflation in the world’s richest economies — making it harder for the middle class to keep up. Home prices, in particular, have been growing more than a third faster than median household income in recent decades. The middle class spent 32% of their budgets on housing in 2015, compared to 25% in 1985.

Thousands of Amazon Employees Listen to Alexa Conversations

Amazon employs a global team that transcribes the voice commands and feeds them back into the software to help improve Alexa’s grasp of human speech so it can respond more efficiently in the future, Bloomberg reports. Amazon reportedly employs thousands of full-time workers and contractors in several countries, including the United States, Costa Rica and Romania, to listen to as many as 1,000 audio clips in shifts that last up to nine hours. The audio clips they listen to were described as “mundane” and even sometimes “possibly criminal,” including listening to a potential sexual assault. In response to the story, Amazon confirmed to CNN Business that it hires people to listen to what customers say to Alexa. But Amazon said it takes “security and privacy of our customers’ personal information seriously” and only uses “requests to Alexa to train our speech recognition and natural language understanding systems.”

  • A judge has ordered Amazon to turn over Echo smart speaker recordings from a home where police say two women were murdered, according to HLN (a national news network that airs news by day and mysteries and investigations by night).

Persecution Watch

Authorities arrested a suspect Wednesday in Louisiana believed to be responsible for the fires that destroyed three predominately black churches in 10 days in St. Landry Parish, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement. Holden Matthews, the 21-year-old son of a St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s deputy, is in custody in connection with the fires which occurred at three black Baptist churches in the same parish.

Economic News

In another sign that the economy is cooling off, employers posted fewer job openings in February, after a year of mounting demand for workers. The number of postings declined by 538,000, the Labor Department reported Tuesday, down from 7.1 million in January. However, the job openings rate is still higher than it was at this time last year. The biggest drops came in the hospitality and food services sector, potentially an indication that leisure spending is weakening.

Consumer prices for U.S. shoppers increased by 0.4% in March, the biggest increase in more than a year, according to a new report from the Labor Department. This was more than expected, but core CPI up just 0.1%, below forecasts. The increase was boosted by increases in the costs of food, gasoline and rents. In the 12 months through March, the CPI increased 1.9 percent, relatively tame, supporting the Federal Reserve’s decision to stop raising interest rates.

U.S. gas prices are rising and could reach more than $4 a gallon in some states due in part to the recent flooding in the Midwest. As of Tuesday, the national gas price average reached $2.74 this week, up more than 28 cents compared to a month ago. West Coast states are seeing the fastest increases, with California leading the pack. A gallon of gas there averages $3.81. Ethanol, the biofuel added to gas to reduce emissions, is made with Midwest corn. Widespread flooding last month knocked out nearly 13 percent of the country’s ethanol production capacity.

California has the highest tax rates in the U.S. but legislators are looking for new sources of revenue. As Californians grapple with that 13.3 percent income tax,  lawmakers in Sacramento are looking at a range of other revenue sources such as levies on water, soda and tires. Members of the legislature’s Democratic supermajority argue that these new taxes are vital to shore up the state coffers and to provide crucial services such as repairing crumbling infrastructure, cleaning up toxic wells and fighting obesity. Overall, the California Tax Foundation has added up more than $6.2 billion worth of tax increase proposals pending in the state legislature. But the state’s minority Republican leaders bemoan these new proposals, arguing that the new charges would only worsen the state’s mounting affordability and housing challenges.

  • Socialism is running amok in California and Californians are leaving the state in droves. Soon, there won’t be enough workers to fund the taxation black hole.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday said the United States would impose tariffs on $11 billion of products from the European Union, a day after the U.S. Trade Representative proposed a list of targeted products as retaliation for European aircraft subsidies. While the size of the tariffs is small compared with the hundreds of billions the U.S. and China are taxing in their trade war, it suggests a breakdown in talks with the European Union over trade at a time when the economy is already slowing sharply. The U.S. and EU have been negotiating since last year about how to avoid tariffs that President Donald Trump has wanted to impose to reduce a trade deficit with countries like Germany.

Britain

After marathon, late-night talks, European Union leaders agreed to delay Britain’s departure from the EU, known as Brexit, by six months. The last-minute extension until Oct. 31 was announced early Thursday in Brussels following an emergency summit. Britain was due to leave the EU on Friday. The delay is intended to give British Prime Minister Theresa May more time to get her Brexit deal through Parliament. It has been rejected three times already.  It also prevents, for now, Britain leaving the bloc without a formal exit deal.

Israel

Incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will retain his seat for an unprecedented 5th term as his Likud party won 35 seats in the 21st Knesset and parties winning sufficient seats to form a majority government pledged to support his continued premiership. The Blue and White party led by former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz also won 35 seats, but has insufficient support from smaller parties to form a majority. However, Netanyahu’s victory comes amid mounting corruption accusations over the past year which are still under investigation.

Omar Barghouti, one of the founders of the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, will not be allowed into the United States. The American government denied Barghouti’s entry on Wednesday at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport. While BDS’ stated goal is to “isolate” Israel culturally and economically, the movement and its adherents frequently face accusations of anti-Semitism based on their rhetoric and their single-minded focus on the world’s only Jewish state for condemnation, ignoring the host of nations with far worse human rights records, including several that have large Palestinian populations, like Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan. Barghouti is a staunch critic of economic normalization between Israeli and Palestinian businesses, and supports the “armed struggle against Israel” according to the Meir Amit Center.

Islamic State

The U.S.-led coalition’s fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is not over, despite a declaration of victory against the group’s last remaining stronghold in eastern Syria last month. In the week following the March 23 victory declaration by Syrian and Kurdish partner forces, the coalition conducted 52 strikes in Iraq and Syria, “While the completion of territorial liberation is a major milestone, we will continue to work by, with, and through our partners in Iraq and Syria to deny ISIS the opportunity to re-emerge,” Pentagon spokesperson Cmdr. Sean Robertson told ABC News. The Islamic State has amassed a war chest of as much as $300 million and continues to exploit a string of revenue streams that are likely to enable the group to finance a covert network in Iraq, Syria and further afield despite the complete physical collapse of its so-called caliphate.

Iran

President Trump announced Monday the U.S. will formally designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. The designation will be the first time that the United States has ever named a part of another government as a foreign terrorist organization.” This unprecedented step, led by the Department of State, recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft,” Trump said in a statement that described the IRGC as “the Iranian government’s primary means of directing and implementing its global terrorist campaign.” Iran warned last weekend that if the U.S. went ahead with the designation, Tehran would retaliate by designating the US military as a terrorist organization in return.

Libya

Clashes between rival Libyan forces for control of Tripoli escalated on Monday as the death toll from days of fighting rose to at least 51, including both combatants and civilians, and the city’s only functioning airport said it was hit by an airstrike. The self-styled Libyan National Army, led by Khalifa Hifter who last week launched the push on Tripoli, acknowledged striking the Mitiga airport, barely five miles east of the city center. Hifter’s forces have clashed with rival militias which support the U.N.-backed government that controls Tripoli and the western part of the country. The escalation has threatened to plunge the fractured North African nation deeper into chaos and ignite civil war on the scale of the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. The U.N. said the latest fighting has displaced some 3,400 people and blocked emergency services from reaching casualties and civilians.

Sudan

Sudan’s military arrested President Omar al-Bashir, ousting him from power in the wake of escalating protests against his 30-year rule, the defense minister announced Thursday. He said the military will rule the country for the next two years with an emergency clampdown. Al-Bashir came to power in a 1989 coup, leading an alliance of the military and Islamist hard-liners. He was condemned by the international war crimes tribunal for atrocities in Darfur. Tens of thousands of Sudanese converged throughout the day at the protest movement’s main sit-in outside the military’s General Command Headquarters, cheering, singing and dancing after word emerged in the morning that al-Bashir would be removed. But the announcement that finally came appeared to confirm the fears of many protesters that the military would shrug off demands for a civilian transition. Defense Minister Awad Mohammed Ibn Ouf announced that the military also suspended the constitution, dissolved the government, declared a state of emergency for three months, closed the country’s borders and airspace and imposed a night curfew for one month.

Afghanistan

The Taliban announced Friday the start of their spring offensive despite talking peace with the United States and ahead of a significant gathering of Afghans meant to discuss resolutions to the protracted war and an eventual withdrawal of American troops from the country. Insurgents carry out daily attacks targeting Afghan security forces and NATO troops, inflicting many casualties, including civilians. Most recently, a Taliban attack near the main U.S. air base in Afghanistan killed three Marines on Monday. At least 16 people were killed and 30 injured when a bomb ripped through a vegetable market in Quetta in southwestern Pakistan early Friday. Eight of the dead were Hazaras, a Shiite Muslim minority group that has repeatedly been the target of Sunni extremists. The Taliban now hold sway over half the country after a relentless 17-year war, America’s longest. The U.N.’s annual report earlier this year said civilian deaths hit a record high last year. Still, preparations are underway for Afghan-to-Afghan talks starting next week in Qatar, where the Taliban have a political office.

New Zealand

New Zealand’s Parliament on Wednesday passed sweeping gun laws that outlaw military style weapons, less than a month after mass shootings at two mosques in the city of Christchurch left 50 people dead and dozens wounded. A bill outlawing most automatic and semi-automatic weapons and banning components that modify existing weapons was passed by a vote of 119 to 1 in the House of Representatives after an accelerated process of debate and public submission. The bill needs only the approval of New Zealand’s governor general, a formality, before becoming law on Friday.

Earthquakes

A 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia’s Sulawesi island Friday evening. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the powerful quake struck around Friday 6:40 p.m. local time at a depth of 10.5 miles. The epicenter of the quake is located beneath the sea about 149 miles from Kandari City. No cities have been impacted, according to reports.

Weather

Winter Storm Wesley continued to wreak havoc on Minnesota and the Dakotas Friday morning, closing schools and government offices, knocking out power to thousands and prompting a state of emergency in Minnesota. For a third straight day, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem closed government offices Friday in most of the state’s 66 counties. About 30,000 people remained without power across South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa as of 7 a.m. Friday. Jackson County in Minnesota reported more than 100 power poles had been knocked down by high winds. Blizzard warnings continued Friday morning in parts of South Dakota but were expected to expire by 1 p.m. local time.

At least 10 people have died in Rio de Janeiro after a torrential downpour caused flooding. Torrents of water gushed down streets, sweeping up cars and uprooting trees after rains that began around rush hour Monday evening. Schools were closed Tuesday and people urged to avoid non-essential travel. City officials said 6 inches of rain fell in just four hours Monday night, more than the average for the whole month of April. The botanical garden neighborhood, a tourist destination, was one of the most badly hit areas, receiving 9 inches in a 24-hour period. Firefighters in that neighborhood wadws through knee-deep water pulling a small boatload of children evacuated from a school bus on a flooded street.

Global warming’s ripple effects are creating never-before-seen changes in the Arctic’s biophysical system and beyond, according to a new study by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program. The results showed transformations in the growing seasons for plant life, an increase in precipitation, accelerated ice melt and glacier shrinking, among other far-reaching changes. Warmer temperatures are causing plants to bloom at different times, confusing bees and affecting pollination. The study found that average temperatures in the Arctic had increased about 5 degrees Fahrenheit since 1971. Another new study by the University of Zurich shows that our planet’s glaciers are melting away at a pace of 390 billion tons of ice and snow per year. The world’s seas have risen about an inch in the past 50 years just due to glacier melt alone.

  • Extreme changes in the weather are prophesied in the Bible for the end-times (Daniel 9:26b, Ezekiel 38:22, Luke 21:25, Revelation 8:7, 11:19, 16:8,11)

 

Signs of the Times

April 6, 2019

­They have turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers who refused to hear My words, and they have gone after other gods to serve them; the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken My covenant which I made with their fathers. Therefore thus says the Lord: “Behold, I will surely bring calamity on them which they will not be able to [a]escape; and though they cry out to Me, I will not listen to them.” (Jeremiah 11:10-11)

‘Unplanned’ Another Christian Hit Move that Surprises Hollywood

“Unplanned,” a faith-based film from PureFlix, finished in the top five movies last weekend with an impressive $6.1 million from only 1,059 theaters. The feature film, which takes a stand against abortion, doubled its projected earnings, well above industry predictions from $2 million to $3 million for its opening weekend. The film tells the true story of Abby Johnson, who worked at Planned Parenthood for eight years before becoming a pro-life activist. The independent production did well despite a temporary Twitter ban on the film’s social media presence, limited release on the nation’s movie screens and very little coverage from the mainstream media. Major cable networks refused to air promotional ads for “Unplanned,” including Lifetime, Hallmark, HGTV and others, according to a Hollywood Reporter tally. The movie also was given a surprise R-rated by MPAA last month. The film earned a rare A-plus rating from CinemaScore.

  • Reverences to Bible verse Jeremiah 11:11 were repeatedly inserted into the film, which first appears on a homeless man’s sign. Many 11:11 references follow, but nowhere is the actual verse quoted (see above for the New King James version).

Pro-Lifers Protest Against Twitter at Its DC Office

Pro-life and free speech activists protested in front of Twitter Washington, DC corporate office last Tuesday. The protest is in response to Twitter’s censorship and blatant violation of their corporate values toward the film “Unplanned.” Here are two examples: Twitter suspended the Unplanned movie account on the evening of the film’s nationwide opening. Twitter said it was because the “Unplanned” account was linked to some other account which is simply not true. “Unplanned” has only one account so any linking had to be done by Twitter personnel. The Unplanned  movie” account went from over 100,000 followers to just 151 Monday. People looking to follow “Unplanned” were immediately dropped from the system. The event is being sponsored by the Washington, DC based Christian Defense Coalition, which is a faith based human rights and free speech organization committed to sharing the principles of justice in the public square.

Georgia Passes the Fetal Heartbeat Bill, South Carolina Follows Suit

Last week, lawmakers in Georgia passed H.B. 481—one of the most restrictive abortion bills in the country—despite threats from Hollywood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The bill bans abortions after a heartbeat is detected, which is typically around the 6th week of pregnancy. This week, Governor Kemp signed it into law. The bill passed 92 to 78, according to CNN. Women were previously allowed to abort up until 20 weeks of their pregnancy. “I can’t govern because I’m worried about what someone in Hollywood thinks about me,” Kemp said. South Carolina followed Georgia’s lead, when the House Judiciary Committee passed its own Heartbeat Bill in a 15-7 vote.

Pope Appoints Pro-LGBT Wilton Gregory to Archdiocese of Washington

The Vatican announced Thursday that Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta will be the successor of embattled Cardinal Donald Wuerl to lead the Archdiocese of Washington D.C., one of the most prominent in the United States. Numerous faithful Catholic laity are outraged over the appointment of Gregory. The Archbishop has a history of showing support for homosexuality, contrary to Catholic teaching, along with other unorthodox positions. As head of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Gregory has displayed an uncritical willingness to accept LGBT ideology. His actions include personally inviting pro-gay Vatican adviser Fr. James Martin to give a speech titled “Showing Welcome and Respect in Our Parishes to LGBT Catholics” at both St. Thomas More Parish and at Atlanta’s Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Gregory also Permited the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (Atlanta, GA) to act as a center for LGBT events, including LGBT potluck socials and participating in the city’s Pride Parade.

Mormons OK Gay Parent Baptisms

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is repealing rules unveiled in 2015 that banned baptisms for children of gay parents and made gay marriage a sin worthy of expulsion. The surprise announcement Thursday reverses rules that triggered widespread condemnations from LGBTQ members and their allies. The church in a statement says it isn’t changing its doctrinal opposition to gay marriage and still considers same-sex relationships to be a “serious transgression.” But people in same-sex relationships will no longer be considered “apostates” who must be kicked out of the religion. The change marks the biggest move yet by church President Russell M. Nelson, who has made a flurry of changes since taking over the faith in January 2018.

Ohio 4-H Program Promotes LGBT Ideology

Liberty Counsel, a Christian nonprofit organization, is accusing Ohio State University’s 4-H program of promoting “LGBT ideology.” Liberty Counsel says, “Homosexuality and ‘transgenderism’ are inappropriate subjects for impressionable children and have nothing to do with 4-H. OSU “is intent on silencing or driving away parents, employees or volunteers who believe that there are only two sexes, male and female.” Liberty Counsel said all Ohio participants in 4-H attend camps and events where they must share showers or sleep in the same rooms as others who identify as another sex. They also said the college’s program promotes the use of the pronouns, ‘Zie, Zir and Zirs,’ which are gender-neutral pronouns.

Yale Discriminates Against Christians

In the latest reminder that traditional Christian values are increasingly unwelcome in modern academia, Yale Law School has reportedly excluded students who work at organizations that stand by Biblical teachings on homosexuality from several financial support programs, reports LifeSiteNews. Aaron Haviland, a Yale Law student and Marine Corps veteran, reports that the school recently announced an expansion of its “nondiscrimination” policy to include summer public interest fellowships, post-graduate public interest fellowships, and loan forgiveness for careers in public interest. Specifically, these resources would no longer be made available to students and graduates who joined organizations that supposedly “discriminate” on the basis of “sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. The move came a month after the campus LGBT group Outlaws raised objections to the Yale Federalist Society inviting an Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorney to discuss the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. Outlaws called on the school to both “clarify” its admissions policies for students who agreed with ADF and deny financial support to students who take summer jobs or fellowships with such groups.

Leading Muslim Cleric Says Islamophobia a Result of Islamic Extremism

The senior member of the world’s biggest Muslim organization has insisted that Islamophobia is not rooted in racism and that the distrust of Muslims in many countries is a result of Islamist extremism and terrorism throughout the world. Yahya Cholil Staquf, the secretary-general of Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama movement, which claims to have more than 90 million adherents, wrote an article in Britain’s Daily Telegraph saying that the traditional Muslim mindset needed to change. He called for a rejection of Islamic orthodoxy, condemning it as “obsolete and problematic” and “fueling violence on both sides…The truth, we recognize, is that jihadist doctrine, goals and strategy can be traced to specific tenets of orthodox, authoritative Islam and its historic practice. This includes those portions of sharia that promote Islamic supremacy, encourage enmity towards non-Muslims and require the establishment of a caliphate. It is these elements – still taught by most Sunni and Shiite institutions – that constitute a summons to perpetual conflict.”

House of Representatives Sues to Overturn Border Emergency Order

The Democratic-led House of Representatives filed a federal lawsuit on Friday aiming to prevent President Donald Trump from going around Congress to fund his wall along the southern border. The lawsuit argues Trump overstepped his constitutional powers when he authorized spending more money than Congress has approved to erect barriers along the southwestern border by taking cash from other agencies. Attorneys general from 20 states, plus environmental and progressive groups, have filed similar lawsuits aimed at blocking the transfers. The complaint, filed against the Treasury, Homeland Security, Defense, Interior departments and each department’s leader. The president had requested about $5.7 billion from Congress to fund for his border wall, but Congress approved just under $1.4 billion for work on border barricades. Trump has asserted he can use his powers as chief executive to transfer another $6.7 billion from other departments to use for wall construction.

Border Update

Along the Texas border with Mexico – from El Paso to Eagle Pass to the Rio Grande Valley – masses of migrants have been crossing the border in unprecedented numbers, overwhelming federal holding facilities and sending local leaders and volunteers scrambling to deal with the relentless waves of people. “It’s staggering,” McAllen City Manager Roy Rodriguez said. “Really, we’ve never seen anything like this before.” U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said Wednesday during a visit to El Paso that the border has hit its “breaking point” and urged Congress to come up with legislative solutions to the problem. The Trump administration will speed up the deployment of hundreds of officers on the southern border of the United States and will dramatically expand a policy of returning migrants seeking asylum to Mexico, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said on Monday. Days after threatening to close the U.S. border with Mexico, President Donald Trump suggested Thursday that his administration would slap tariffs on autos long before it considered sealing the nation off from its southern neighbor. President Trump said Friday that the U.S. is “full” and cannot accept any more illegal immigrants or even asylum-seekers.

Trump Administration Moves to Cut Aid to 3 Migrant Countries

The State Department said Saturday it would seek to suspend 2017 and 2018 payments to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, where thousands of citizens have joined migrant caravans, prompting complaints that funding cuts would only make the problem worse. Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney defended Sunday the administration’s move to cut off aid to a trio of Central America countries, saying they need to “do more” to stop the migrant caravans sending thousands to the U.S. border. Mulvaney said the problem is getting worse even with U.S. aid to Mexico and Central America. “We could prevent a lot of what’s happening on the southern border by preventing people from moving into Mexico in the first place.”

Judge Strikes Down Trump’s Reversal of Offshore Drilling Bans

A U.S. federal judge ruled that President Trump exceeded his authority when he reversed bans on offshore drilling in vast parts of the Arctic Ocean and dozens of canyons in the Atlantic Ocean. The ruling restored the Obama-era restrictions. U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason, in a decision late Friday, said that presidents have the power under federal law to remove certain lands from development but cannot revoke those removals. “The wording of President Obama’s 2015 and 2016 withdrawals indicates that he intended them to extend indefinitely, and therefore be revocable only by an act of Congress,” said Gleason, who was nominated to the bench by Obama.

Judge Blocks NY Emergency Order Against Unvaccinated Kids

A judge on Friday halted Rockland County’s emergency declaration banning children who are unvaccinated against measles from schools, places of worship and other public areas. Acting state Supreme Court Judge Rolf Thorsen’s injunction stated that the 166 cases cited by the county since the measles outbreak began last October did not rise to the level of an epidemic or constitute a disaster. Thorsen agreed with the families who sued to the county over the state of emergency when they said their children would continue to miss school, and the parents would continue to incur monetary expenses as a result of the order. The families asserted that the children posed no threat to other children at a school where there had been no reported cases of the measles.

20% of Deaths Worldwide Due to Poor Diet

Millions of people are dying around the world from poor diets, often packed with sodium and lacking in whole grains and fruits, according to a study published Wednesday. The peer-reviewed Global Burden of Disease analysis published in The Lancet suggests one in five deaths (about 11 million) are linked to unhealthy eating habits. People didn’t consume enough nuts, seeds, milk and whole grains, according to data from 2017. Instead, they consumed too much processed meat, sodium and sugary drinks. “Poor diet is responsible for more deaths than any other risk factor in the world,” study author Dr. Christopher Murray of the University of Washington said in a statement. The deaths included about 10 million from cardiovascular disease, 913,000 from cancer and almost 339,000 from type 2 diabetes. The United States ranked 43rd on a list of deaths related to poor diet, with 171 deaths linked to diet per 100,000. The countries with the lowest rates of diet-related deaths were Israel, France, Spain and Japan. The highest rates were found in Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and the Marshall Islands.

Mysterious Drug-Resistant Infection Spanning the Globe

The New York Times reports that a mysterious fungus called Candida auris, preys on people with weakened immune systems, and it is quietly spreading across the globe. Over the last five years, it has hit a neonatal unit in Venezuela, swept through a hospital in Spain, forced a prestigious British medical center to shut down its intensive care unit, and taken root in India, Pakistan and South Africa. Recently C. auris reached New York, New Jersey and Illinois, leading the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to add it to a list of germs deemed “urgent threats.” C. auris is so tenacious, in part, because it is impervious to major antifungal medications, making it a new example of one of the world’s most intractable health threats: the rise of drug-resistant infections. Fungi, just like bacteria, are evolving defenses to survive modern medicines.

  • Biblical prophecies say pestilence will be a major end-time sign: For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. (Matthew 24:7)

No Disaster Aid for Midwest Farmers’ Stored Crops

Farmers throughout Iowa and Nebraska are reeling after being told that federal disaster aid won’t cover all of their losses, specifically any due to crops that were already harvested before the flood and now sit in swamped grain bins, silos or other storage areas. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has several programs to help farmers after natural disasters, including assistance in the case of livestock losses or damaged fields, but none specifically to reimburse farmers for lost commodities that are being stored. U.S. farmers have a larger surplus of certain crops this year is due to years of oversupplied markets, low prices and lost sales from the U.S. trade war with China. As the scope of damage to crops and livestock across Nebraska and Iowa begins to sink in, some farmers say this could be the end of their family businesses.

47,000 Bridges in the U.S. are Structurally Deficient

More than 47,000 bridges across the U.S. are structurally deficient and fixing them could take decades, according to a new report from the American Road and Transportation Builders Association. 1,775 of the bridges are on the Interstate Highway System, the backbone of the nation’s transportation infrastructure. “At the current pace, it would take more than 80 years to replace or repair the nation’s structurally deficient bridges,” ARTBA said in a statement. Some of the most prominent bridges on the list are New York’s Brooklyn Bridge, the Memorial Bridge in Washington D.C., the San Mateo-Hayward bridge over San Francisco Bay, the Robert S. Maestri Bridge over Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana and the Pensacola Bay Bridge in Florida. The states with the largest number of structurally deficient bridges are Iowa, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, California, New York, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Automobile Congestion Toll Planned for NYC

New York City is set to become the first American metropolis that seeks to ease traffic congestion, cut pollution and boost mass transit by charging motorists a hefty toll for the privilege of driving into its most crammed areas. London, Singapore and Stockholm have all reported that “congestion pricing” systems similar to the one now being planned for Manhattan led to reductions in traffic and improvements in air quality, while creating a steady stream of revenue to support public transit and other infrastructure. New York plans to use a network of license plate readers to bill vehicles for using surface roads anywhere in Manhattan south of Central Park. The toll is likely to be more than $10 per incident.

Brexit to Be Delayed?

Prime Minister Theresa May wants to delay the UK’s exit from the European Union until June 30 to avoid a crash-out in one week’s time, though a key European Union leader suggested a pause of up to a year. In a Friday letter to EU President Donald Tusk, May seeks an extension until June 30 and agrees to make contingency plans to take part in European Parliament elections in late May if necessary. Tusk urged the 27 remaining EU nations to offer the UK a flexible extension of up to a year to make sure the nation doesn’t leave the bloc in a chaotic and costly way. Tusk hopes to get it approved at next Wednesday’s EU summit. Such a move would require the UK to take part in the May 23 to May 26 European elections, something which May has long argued would not be in either side’s interest.

Economic News

The U.S. economy added 196,000 jobs in March, the Labor Department reported Friday, a strong rebound from anemic job growth in February. The unemployment rate stayed at 3.8 percent. Payroll growth was feeble in February, with just 33,000 additions, but that was largely blamed on weather as construction and leisure and hospitality had especially poor performances. Employers added a robust average of 223,000 jobs a month in 2018, but analysts expect employment growth to throttle back this year amid the slowing economy and worker shortages.

The median asking price for a U.S. home hit $300,000 for the first time ever in March, according to housing data from Realtor.com. The number of houses priced above $750,000 jumped 11% from last year, while the supply of entry-level homes sunk by 9%.Overall, there were 56,000 more homes for sale in March versus last year, up 4%. The inventory growth largely occurred in the 50 largest U.S. markets mostly on the pricey West Coast West, including San Jose (up 114%), Seattle (up 77%) and San Francisco (up 44%).

More than 41,000 people have lost their jobs in the retail industry so far this year — a 92 percent spike in layoffs since the same time last year, according to a new report from global outplacementfirm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.. The shortest month of the year saw the highest number of job cuts in over three-and-a-half years, as U.S.-based employers announced plans to cut 76,835 positions from their payrolls in February. That is 45 percent higher than the 52,988 cuts announced in January, according to the report released Thursday

Health care costs in the United States are generally measured as the highest in the world. Last year, many Americans could not afford their health care costs and so borrowed $88 billion to pay for that portion they could not afford. Even though more than 90 percent of all Americans have some form of health coverage, health insurance deductibles have gotten much larger.” In addition, even if you have surpassed your deductible, there is still no guarantee that your health insurance company will cover your medical bills.  If you do not jump through every single little hoop they want you to jump through, in many instances they will leave you high and dry,” notes Michael Snyder on the Economic Collapse website.

The past decade of ultra-low interest rates has spawned the rise of “zombie” companies. These debt-laden firms don’t make enough to even cover their interest payments. The number of zombie companies in advanced economies last year stood at 536, or 13% of the total, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. That’s a surprising figure given that the global economy was strong in 2018. In fact, the number of zombie companies isn’t far from the peak of 626 seen during the depths of the Great Recession, BofA said. Economists blame the era of extremely low interest rates. Easy money allows companies to borrow cheaply. And low rates encourage investors to gamble on riskier companies.

The price of an average gallon of regular gasoline is surging nationwide, driven mostly by rising oil prices. Over the past month, the average is up almost 12 percent to $2.69. In four states, the price has increased to over $3 a gallon. This is just four months since American prices hit an 18 month low. The average price of a gallon of regular is $3.61 in California, $3.38 in Hawaii, $3.14 in Washington and $3.04 in Oregon. Crude oil was just below $48 a barrel three months ago. Monday it was at $61 a barrel, an increase of 27%.

Israel

Israel’s Ministry of Housing published on Thursday new tenders for the construction of hundreds of housing units in communities across Judea and Samaria, the Israeli daily, Ma’ariv reports. Several Samarian communities are also slated for new construction. Prime Minister Netanyahu had announced the Ariel housing units last month, just a day after the double terror attack at the Ariel Junction that claimed the lives of First Sgt. Gal Qeidan and Rabbi Ahiad Ettinger. “These terrorists will not uproot us from here – the exact opposite will happen,” he vowed. A record number of 3,788 housing tenders have been announced since the start of 2018, a marked increase over the number of 3,154 in 2017.

A massive billboard was unveiled this week outside the offices of The New York Times that criticizes the paper, its editors and staff of fomenting anti-Israel sentiment through its news coverage. At the center of the billboard is an evocative image of a Molotov cocktail whose wick is lit by a flaming New York Times article with the headline: “Israel Bulldozes Democracy.” Around the incendiary device, which is a favorite weapon of Hamas rioters, it says: “While Hamas firebombs Israel … ‘The New York Times’ inflames with biased coverage.” Andrea Levin, executive director of CAMERA, which created the massive 35-foot billboard, says the Times took almost two weeks to report about Hamas’s recent violent crackdown on their own people, which saw 70 Palestinian journalists targeted, according to reports on the ground. Hamas’s consistent pattern of human-rights abuse has led observers to question why mainstream media outlets like the Times fail to report regularly on Hamas’s oppression of its own citizens.

Middle East

A fragile calm had returned to the Gaza border region of southern Israel Monday morning following a weekend which saw smaller than expected riots to mark the one-year anniversary of the so-called “March of Return” by Palestinian residents of the Hamas-ruled territory. Rocket alerts were also heard in some Gaza-border communities but the rockets ended up landing in empty fields or inside Gaza territory with no reports of damage or casualties. Hamas issued a statement Sunday saying it was waiting to hear from Egyptian officials before making a decision about a long-term truce with Israel.

Islamic State

Despite its military defeat, the so-called Islamic State remains a threat and is possibly reorganizing its ranks again, the Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Jens Stoltenberg, said on Monday. “ISIS does not control any territory anymore, and that is, of course, very much because of the efforts of the global coalition and that’s a huge achievement, a significant achievement,” Stoltenberg said. “But that doesn’t mean that the fight against terrorism is over or that we can be complacent,” he added. “We know that they still try to mobilize support for their twisted ideology.” The terror organization continues to launch sporadic attacks via its sleeper cells in both countries. Last week, an Islamic State car bomb killed a member of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the Syrian province of Deir al-Zor.

As one extremist Islamic state falls, another one endures. Over the past few years, a group that was formerly part of al-Qaeda has cemented its power in northern Syria and now rules over some 3 million people. After forcing out rival rebel groups in Idlib earlier this year, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) has moved to impose its control over all institutions in the province. A university with more than 6,000 students has become the latest battleground in its quest for dominance. “They came when we were in the middle of exams and said they would be taking over,” says Ahmad, a student at Free Aleppo University, which was shut down last week by the HTS-controlled administration in Idlib. “They arrested many professors at our university to put us under pressure to leave,” says Ahmed, who would give only his first name because he fears retribution for speaking out.”

Yemen

The House voted Thursday to end U.S. participation in Yemen’s civil war, denouncing the Saudi-led bombing campaign there as worsening an already dire humanitarian crisis and sending the measure to President Trump for his expected veto. The vote was 247 to 175 and fell largely along party lines. It reflected the division between Democrats and Republicans over how to address Saudi Arabia’s efforts to defeat Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who are backed by Iran, and their inability to find consensus on confronting Trump’s embrace of Saudi leaders after the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The resolution passed in the Senate last month with the support of seven Republicans.

Afghanistan

A large attack by the Taliban in western Afghanistan on Thursday killed at least 30 soldiers and police officers, Afghan officials said, in a sign of intensifying spring fighting across the country despite American efforts to reach a peace deal. Hundreds of Taliban fighters stormed the center of Bala Murghab District in Badghis Province in the predawn hours. The district has come under intense insurgent pressure in recent weeks, with officials warning that it could fall unless reinforcements are sent in. The Taliban attacks are intensifying at a time when Zalmay Khalilzad, the American special envoy, is visiting Afghanistan to build a national consensus on the peace talks with the insurgents.

Mozambique

The number of cholera cases in Mozambique, which was devastated by Tropical Cyclone Idai, has risen to more than 500, and the country has confirmed the first death caused by the disease on Monday. Doctors Without Borders has said it is seeing about 200 likely cholera cases a day in Beira. At least 815 people in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi have been reported killed by the cyclone or flooding it caused which struck on March 14.

Australia

The Parliament of Australia passed legislation regulating social media companies in the wake of the New Zealand shootings. The bill, which won broad support, would penalize failures to promptly remove violent content online and requires authorities to be notified when said content is found. “Australia’s pioneering legislation – disregarding the tech industry’s incessant lobbying efforts – should serve as a model for other lawmakers across the world. It’s evident that tech’s desire for self-regulation is failing, and governments must step in to ensure that the proper measures are in place to protect its citizens from the ongoing misuse of Internet sites and platforms,” said Counter Extremism Project (CEP) CEO Ambassador Mark D. Wallace.

Wildfires

A forest fire fueled by wind in southern New Jersey that has burned thousands of acres has sent billowing smoke far north enough that residents in New York are able to smell it. The blaze was located in Burlington County just west of the Ocean County line. The Forest Fire Service, as well as many local fire departments, are fighting the blaze. In Washington Township, the fire closed Route 72 in Barnegat between Routes 532 and 539 until further notice because of smoke. The fire was burning through the Penn State Forest, undeveloped wilderness that attracts picnickers and hikers. The forest is part of the Pine Barrens, which contains several areas of pine and oak forest with few structures. The Spring Hill Wildfire grew to 11,600 acres before it was fully contained Monday.

Thirty-one people have died while fighting a fire in the mountains of China’s Sichuan province, the government said Monday. The dead included 27 firefighters and four local residents recruited to help battle the blaze in a rugged area about 12,500 feet up the mountain. China has been battling forest fires in recent weeks in various parts of the vast country, including on the outskirts of Beijing, fed by dry weather and high winds across many northern areas.

A wildfire thought to be one of the largest on record tore through a northern South Korea province Thursday evening, prompting a national emergency and forcing thousands to flee. Two people are dead and at least 11 injured as a result of the fire that broke out around 7 p.m. local time Thursday in the resort town of Goseong in the northeastern province of Gangwon, about 100 miles northeast of Seoul. Fueled by winds and dry conditions, the fire quickly spread to nearby mountains and other smaller towns. The fire still burns in some areas but was brought under control Friday afternoon by more than 16,500 soldiers that were called in to help firefighters battle the blaze.

Weather

In the fertile river bottoms of northwest Missouri, the floods keep coming. And this year, as some residents were finally paying off debts from past repairs, the water ripped through at record levels, blasting new openings in the levees that are supposed to protect homes and farms. The flooding of the last month has exposed the vulnerabilities in a levee system that is now so full of holes many here ruefully describe it as “Swiss cheese.” With dozens of costly breaks across Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and nearby states, the floods have left large areas of the Midwest without much, if any, flood protection. And with the fear of more floods in the coming years — and perhaps even the coming weeks — many people said living and farming near the water might not be viable much longer without major changes. Communities along the Missouri River continued to have trouble restoring drinking water service weeks after flooding left towns and cities inundated. Residents in affected Nebraska and Iowa towns have to boil water before drinking it or rely on bottled water while officials work to repair the damage. Bright red notices adorn the doors of more than 580 homes in two Omaha suburbs. The tags mark the homes as uninhabitable, and provide a snapshot of the destruction wrought by last month’s record flooding across the Midwest and Great Plains.

At least 32 people have died and 12 others are missing after flash flooding struck northern and western provinces of Afghanistan over a two-day span. More than 700 houses were destroyed or severely damaged. Aid groups said tens of thousands of people may have been affected by the flooding, some of whom are farmers impacted by a years-long drought.

Rescuers struggled Monday to reach remote areas of southern Nepal where a violent rainstorm killed at least 28 people over the weekend. Survivors in devastated villages desperately searched for food and shelter. High winds during the storm Sunday night flipped cars and blew a bus carrying at least 40 people off a highway, killing some of the passengers. Flying objects, falling huts and trees caused most of the deaths and injuries.