Signs of the Times

­­For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-21)

Judge Overturns Ban on Same-Sex Counseling

A federal judge has torpedoed the city of Tampa’s attempt to block licensed counselors from helping patients overcome unwanted same-sex attractions. Similar laws have been defeated in other jurisdictions. In Tampa, U.S. District Judge William Jung granted summary judgment to Liberty Counsel in its lawsuit against Tampa’s ordinance prohibiting “licensed counselors from providing voluntary talk therapy to minors seeking help to reduce or eliminate their unwanted same-sex attractions, behaviors, or identity.” The ordinance, the judge said, “is preempted by the comprehensive Florida regulatory scheme for healthcare regulation and discipline.” The judge’s ruling eliminates the potential for counselors to be fined for providing the therapy their clients seek. Liberty Counsel’s Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “This is a great victory for counselors and clients.”

Hundreds of Transgenders Wish They Hadn’t Changed

Transgenders – by the “hundreds” – are fed up with their lifestyle choice and are wanting to return to living as their birth gender, prompting the creation of an advocacy network to help them, according to a new report from the Christian Institute. According to the institute, former trans Charlie Evans said: “I’m in communication with 19- and 20-year-olds who have had full gender reassignment surgery who wish they hadn’t, and their dysphoria hasn’t been relieved, they don’t feel better for it. Evans, who was born female but lived as a man for nearly a decade, just last year accepted her true sex and went public about it. “Many people similarly discouraged have contacted her, by the “hundreds,” she said. So, she launched the Detransition Advocacy Network, which is providing help to those who want to live as their birth sex.

200,000 Students Expected to ‘Stand for Christ’ on Football Fields

Hundreds of thousands of students are joining together Wednesday on football fields across the nation to encourage their peers to pray, worship, read their Bibles, and commit their lives to Christ. Fields of Faith, a student-led ministry outreach part of Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) that started in 2004, has seen thousands of kids and young adults tackle tough topics and turn their lives around at the event. Students at over 500 fields nationwide will be helping their peers face challenges such as hopelessness, loneliness, depression, suicide, drugs, alcohol, and more with the hope of Christ. “In a world where bad news seems to be the norm, we’re happy to share the great news that lives are being changed through Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ Fields of Faith,” Jeff Martin, FCA executive director said.

Supreme Court to Review Louisiana Abortion Regulations

The U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will take up the case of Louisiana’s admitting privileges law, which could have the potential of upending the high court’s most recent pro-abortion precedents. The case concerns Louisiana’s Act 620, which requires abortion centers to make arrangements for admitting women to hospitals within 30 miles in cases of life-threatening complications. A ruling is likely to be handed down during the already-contentious 2020 election year, in which abortion and judicial nominations will be major issues for both President Donald Trump and his Democrat opponent. It’s an open question whether a majority would take the opportunity to make a broader determination as to the underlying legitimacy of Roe v. Wade.

Aggressive Climate Change Protests Hit Europe, Australia

A group of extreme climate change activists around the globe has brought parts of London, France, Germany, and Australia to a standstill as they aggressively push politicians to cut carbon emissions. In London alone, the actions of the Extinction Rebellion group led to 319 arrests. Climate protesters in Australia and New Zealand also blocked roads, entered banks and energy companies on Monday. In Sydney, police were seen dragging elderly people and men in suits through the crowds as massive groups blocked roads in and out of the city. In all, police in Australia arrested about 30 people. In Britain, the aim of the group is to force the country to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2025. Currently, Britain’s target is 2050.

Immigration Update

Immigrants who can’t prove they have health coverage will be denied visas, White House says. Starting Nov. 3, visas will be denied for immigrants who “will financially burden” the U.S. health-care system, according to a proclamation issued by President Trump. Foreign nationals must prove that they have insurance or can cover their own health costs before entering the United States, the White House said. The new rule comes as President Trump is intensifying his efforts to fulfill his campaign promises to curb immigration.

U.N. Sounds Alarm Over Cash Crisis

The United Nations is facing its worst cash crisis in nearly a decade and is warning that it may be unable to pay its bills by the end of the month, while urging member states to pay their contributions to the world body immediately. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote to member states this week, saying that as of the end of September, they have only paid 70 percent of budget contributions. While the U.S. is one of the countries that have not paid its contribution in full, an official from the U.S. Mission to the U.N. told Fox News that is in part because of differences in U.S. and U.N. fiscal years. “To date this year, we have contributed over $600 million to UN peacekeeping operations, and will be providing the vast majority of the $674 million we owe to the 2019 regular budget this fall, as we have in past years,” the official said. “Overall the United States, as the largest contributor to the UN, contributes roughly $10 billion annually in assessed and voluntary contributions across the United Nations system.”

Dick’s Sporting Goods Destroyed $5M Worth of Firearms

Dick’s Sporting Goods has destroyed $5 million of the chain’s gun inventory, its CEO said. After finding out that Dick’s had sold the Parkland shooter a shotgun, CEO Edward Stack decided last year the company would no longer sell firearm to anyone under 21. Dick’s announced it would destroy its inventory of weapons, rather than allow them to be sold by another retailer. Since then, about $5 million of the chain’s gun inventory has been turned into scrap metal, Stack said. Stack is a hunter and gun owner who believes strongly in the Second Amendment. The company, which his father started as a fish-and-tackle shop in 1948. Stack said the controversial decision cost his company about a quarter of a billion dollars in revenue.

Economic News

The federal budget deficit for 2019 is estimated at $984 billion, a hefty 4.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and the highest since 2012, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said on Monday. The deficit was $205 billion more than the previous fiscal year, an increase of 26 percent in just one year.

A survey released by the National Association for Business Economics lowered growth expectations for next year to below 2%, citing protectionism, trade uncertainty and slowing global growth. The New York Fed has lowered its fourth-quarter GDP forecast to just 1.3% growth.

In September, manufacturing lost 2,000 jobs. Over the past year, Pennsylvania has lost more than 7,700 jobs in manufacturing and Wisconsin has shed more than 5,200.

Gasoline prices have spiked in California, soaring well above what most Americans are paying at the pump. In some locations, Californians are paying $5 for a gallon of gas. A number of refinery outages tightened gas supply in the market. The average price of regular gas in California rose to $4.18 a gallon, the highest level since May 13, 2014. The national average is currently $2.65 a gallon.

Persecution Watch

Six Christians on their way to church in Batticaloa district, Sri Lanka were attacked and beaten with sticks by around ten villagers on 21 September, in one of a series of incidents of intimidation and harassment targeted at believers in less than two weeks. Five of the Christians were so badly injured that they were admitted to hospital. Local sources said the pastor and congregation have faced continuous harassment this year from the same group of villagers in Kalkudah. Two of the mob of attackers were arrested. Christians faced violent intimidation on 14 September when 15 police officers together with six Buddhist monks and around 100 villagers descended on Zion Revival Church, Gampaha district and demanded that Christians stop conducting worship services. On 11 September, a pastor in Passara, Badulla district, was told that three villagers had petitioned against the construction of the Assemblies of God church and his request for financial help from the Passara local authorities was blocked. This was despite the church having already received all necessary approvals for construction.

Syria

The White House announced Sunday evening that United States forces in northern Syria would move aside in advance of a planned Turkish military offensive. The move marks a major shift in US foreign policy and effectively gives Turkey the green light to attack US-backed Kurdish forces. The group, long considered as among Washington’s most reliable partners in Syria, has played a key strategic role in the campaign against ISIS in the region. Following a phone call between US President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the White House said that Turkey would soon begin a military offensive and US forces would not be involved in the operation. “Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria,” a statement said. “The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area.” American-backed Kurdish-led fighters in northeast Syria accused President Trump of a “stab in the back.”

  • Lindsey Graham, one of President Donald Trump’s strongest Republican defenders in Congress, blasted Trump Monday over the decision saying it was “shortsighted and irresponsible.” Graham said, “This impulsive decision by the President has undone all the gains we’ve made, thrown the region into further chaos. Iran is licking their chops. And if I’m an ISIS fighter I’ve got a second lease on life. So to those who think ISIS has been defeated you will soon see,” Graham said during an interview on Fox News.” Pat Roberson also denounced this Trump decision saying Trump could well lose his “mandate from heaven.”

Turkey

A planned Turkish military operation in northern Syria has now begun, the country’s president announced Wednesday, as Kurdish fighters say warplanes are already bombing civilian areas in the region. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tweeted that the maneuvers being carried out against Syrian Kurdish forces – which Ankara considers terrorists allied with a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey – are part of Operation Peace Spring.”Our mission is to prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border, and to bring peace to the area,” he said in a tweet. The move comes in defiance of international criticism and just days after President Donald Trump announced U.S. troops supporting Kurdish forces in the area would be pulled back from the border zone. Fahrettin Altun, the Turkish government’s chief spokesman, said Turkey seeks to “neutralize” Syrian Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria and to “liberate the local population from the yoke of the armed thugs.”

  • The Kurds were U.S. allies in the successful campaign to dismantle ISIS

Germany

Two people have been killed following a shooting rampage near a synagogue in the eastern German town of Halle, according to local police. One woman was killed close to the town’s synagogue around midday local time on Wednesday, before a gunman opened fire at a kebab shop roughly 600 meters away, fatally wounding a man. A police search for the perpetrators is now underway. At least one person is on the run and local residents were urged to seek safety, as the attack may have involved as many as three suspects. Several people were also injured in what local authorities described as a “rampage.” The incident near the synagogue comes on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.

France

France has been rocked by a security breach that allowed an Islamist extremist to work in the heart of its counterterrorism apparatus for years, before he killed four of his colleagues last week. Mickaël Harpon, a 45-year-old convert to Islam, was allowed to continue working in the intelligence division of the Paris police, despite arguing with colleagues in 2015 that the terror attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was justified. Harpon’s colleagues mentioned the conversation to their superiors, but he wasn’t flagged in France’s security database that tracks extremists across the nation.

Russia

Western security officials say they have uncovered the existence of an elite Russian military intelligence unit dedicated to destabilizing Europe, the New York Times reports. The officials say Unit 29155 was behind a coup attempt in Montenegro, an effort to cause a political crisis in Moldova, and attempts to assassinate a Bulgarian arms dealer, as well as last year’s poisoning of a former Russian double agent in Britain. Officials say the top-secret unit, part of Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency, has been operating for at least a decade, but European security agencies only recently realized that incidents thought to have been unrelated operations had been carried out by the unit as part of a wide-ranging mission to undermine the West.

Iran

China National Petroleum Corp. has pulled out of a $5 billion natural-gas project in Iran as escalating tensions threaten to sever Beijing’s trade with Tehran, a key lifeline for the Islamic Republic. The exit by Beijing, which had vowed to resist U.S. restrictions on Iran, is a blow to Tehran’s attempts to fight growing economic isolation and comes after Washington brought new sanctions on Chinese companies still trading with Iran.

China

China demanded Washington lift sanctions on Chinese tech companies and warned Wednesday that it will “resolutely safeguard” the country’s interests. The Ministry of Commerce criticized curbs imposed on sales of U.S. technology to a group of Chinese companies as interference in the country’s affairs. American officials say those companies provide technology used to repress Muslim minorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang. “We strongly urge the United States to immediately stop making irresponsible remarks on the issue of Xinjiang, stop interfering with China’s internal affairs and remove relevant Chinese entities from the Entity List as soon as possible,” a ministry statement said. “China will take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard Chinese interests.” Despite the spike in tension, the ministry said Tuesday that a trade delegation was going ahead with a trip to Washington for talks aimed at ending the tariff war.

Hong Kong

The semi-autonomous Chinese city is in its 18th consecutive week of anti-government protests. The unrest has grown increasingly violent on both sides, with protesters using petrol bombs and setting fires, and police firing tear gas and water cannons. During citywide protests on October 1, police used lethal force for the first time, after protesters attacked several officers. According to a survey by the University of Hong Kong in June, nearly half of the city’s population is considering leaving. The city’s young professionals don’t just want to move, they want to move soon. YouGov’s survey found that a quarter of those who want to migrate are likely to do so within the next three years. Government data provided to CNN shows that the number of applications for a certificate that is necessary for Hong Kongers applying for visas overseas surged over 50% from May to August.

Japan

Japan’s fertility crisis is worsening, with data from the first seven months of this year showing the sharpest drop in births in 30 years, according to preliminary government data. Births fell 5.9% from January to July year over year, as the pool of women of childbearing age shrinks and more women delay having children or decide not to have them at all, figures from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare show. Japan’s birth rate has been falling since the late 1970s. In 2005, it reached a record low of 1.26 per woman, but then seemed to be on a path of recovery until it started to fall again in 2016, according to government figures. By 2018, it was at 1.42. Another cause for Japan’s declining birth rate is the fall in marriage rates, with having children outside of wedlock still frowned upon.

  • To maintain a stable population, countries need a fertility rate of 2.1. Last year, it was 1.72 in the United States but only 0.98 — or less than one baby per woman — in South Korea, where fertility rates have fallen to their lowest level since records began.

Ecuador

Ecuador’s president is accusing his political rivals of trying to orchestrate a coup this week after violent protests tied to rising fuel prices forced his government to relocate away from the country’s capital. Officials say about 350 people have been detained so far for blocking traffic, interrupting public services or attacking police following President Lenín Moreno’s decision to end government subsidies that have been keeping fuel prices down. Moreno says the subsidies have cost the government heavily in recent years and dropped them in a bid to stimulate Ecuador’s economy. “[This] is not a protest of social dissatisfaction faced with a government decision but the looting, vandalism and violence show there is an organized political motive to destabilize the government,” the embattled leader said

Mexico

Eleven people were arrested in southern Mexico on Tuesday after the mayor of their village was dragged out of his office, beaten, and then tied to a pickup truck and dragged through the streets of the town, according to officials. The State’s Attorney General’s Office in Tuxtla Gutiérre said in a news release that the incident happened early Tuesday in the town of Las Margaritas, when a group of people stormed Mayor Jorge Luis Escandón Hernández’s office. The angry group of farmers was demanding the mayor build a road he promised to construct during his campaign. State police were eventually able to rescue the mayor and said Hernandez was “safe and sound.” The incident caused a brawl between the locals and the police, leaving at least 20 injured and 11 arrested. This was the second attack this year by locals demanding the mayor fulfill his campaign promise to build the road.

Pestilence

An outbreak of a deadly and rare brain disease has killed at least 11 people in the United States so far this year. Scientists say the mosquito-borne illness, Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), may be worse because of unseasonably warm temperatures. It’s one of just several diseases scientists worry are being affected by climate change. The nation’s changing climate patterns are bringing heatwaves, flooding, warming waters and droughts. These in turn alter the environment and the microbes, viruses and insects that inhabit it in ways that can cause them to increase or appear in new areas and at different times than before. The mosquitoes which transmit the EEE virus thrive in warmer temperatures and die off at the first hard frost. Earlier springs, later falls and hotter months in between contribute to higher mosquito populations and the greater chance of infection.

Wildfires

Power is being shut off to nearly 800,000 Pacific Gas and Electric customers in California due to the threat of wildfires. Schools and universities were closed in some areas and residents stocked up on groceries, batteries and gas ahead of the blackouts, which PG&E said could last as long as five days. The preemptive outage stands to be one of the largest in the state’s history as windy, dry conditions raise the risk for wildfires in the coming days. Many of those affected are in the San Francisco Bay area and the northern part of the state, including San Jose, Oakland, Fremont, Santa Rosa, Hayward, Berkeley and San Mateo. In all, parts of some 34 counties in northern, central and coastal California face blackouts. The utility said the shutoffs were based on a fire weather watch from the National Weather Service. Winds up to 65 mph were expected in some areas, prompting the NWS to issue alerts for elevated, critical and extreme wildfire chances across large swaths of the state.

Gusty winds and dry conditions could send smoke plumes from the Decker fire in Colorado skyward, unfurling embers across the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness, authorities say. The 6,326-acre wildfire, which started from a lightning strike Sept. 8, remained only 5% contained. It’s now burning 2 miles south of Salida, a city of about 5,200 people in Chaffee County. On Saturday, 300 people and 130 houses were evacuated from several subdivisions. However, some of those mandatory evacuations have now been lifted.

Weather

Portions of the central USA will feel downright winterlike over the next few days as a potent snowstorm and bitter cold take aim on the region. The powerful system is expected to produce heavy snow, as much as 12 inches, from the north-central Rockies into the northern Plains. Winter storm warnings and watches are already widespread across the region, all the way from Idaho to Minnesota. Significant travel impacts, tree damage and sporadic power outages will be possible where the heaviest snow occurs. Temperatures will also plunge by as much as 60 degrees in the span of 12 to 24 hours as the cold air swiftly replaces preceding mild conditions.

The Earth just had its warmest September on record. The past five years have been the warmest since modern records began in the 1880s, according to NASA. Globally, September 2019 was roughly 1.02 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the average from 1981-2010. Regions with the most markedly above average temperatures included the central and eastern USA, the Mongolian plateau and parts of the Arctic. Much below average temperatures were only recorded in a few regions, including southwestern Russia and parts of Antarctica.

  • End-time weather will continue to grow more extreme (Daniel 9:26b, Ezekiel 38:22, Luke 21:25, Revelation 8:7, 11:19, 16:8,11)

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