Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Iraq Deaths Down

U.S. combat deaths in Iraq appear headed to the lowest monthly total since the start of the war as the top U.S. general there said overall violence is declining toward "normal" levels. There have been six U.S. combat deaths so far in July, according to a USA TODAY database. The lowest monthly number was eight in May 2003, slightly more than a month after the invasion. Iraqi civilian deaths also have dropped. Although suicide attacks along with other violence has been declining, al-Qaeda retains the ability to bomb civilian targets and wreak havoc. Monday's attack that killed more than 50 Iraqis was the deadliest in more than a month.

Killing for Islam

If ignorance and poverty are responsible for the growth of extremist views in the Islamic world, someone needs ask to Muslim students, privileged enough and bright enough to attend some of the United Kingdom's best universities, why one-in-three of them endorses killing in the name of Islam. This finding is based on a poll of 600 Muslim and 800 non-Muslim students at 12 universities in the UK, and conducted by YouGov on behalf of the Center for Social Cohesion in the report "Islam on Campus." Among its findings of Muslim beliefs:

  • 40 per cent support introduction of sharia into British law for Muslims
  • One-third back the idea of a worldwide Islamic caliphate based on sharia law
  • 40 per believe it is unacceptable for Muslim men and women to associate freely
  • 24 per cent do not think men and women are equal in the eyes of Allah
  • 53 per cent believe killing in the name of religion is never justified (compared with 94 per cent of non-Muslims)

No Peace for Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday that it is unlikely a peace deal will be achieved with the Palestinian Authority by the end of 2008. Olmert's admission comes as Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was reported over the weekend to be resisting efforts by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to have Israel and the PA draft a joint summary of their positions on core issues in time to present to the United Nations General Assembly when it opens its fall session in September. "I don't believe we can reach an understanding this year that includes the Jerusalem issue," Olmert told the key Knesset committee in a regular briefing today. "There is no practical chance of reaching an overall understanding on Jerusalem." He added, however, that an agreement is more feasible on such issues as borders and the disposition of Palestinian refugees.

Wars and Rumors of Wars

SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Indian and Pakistani soldiers traded fire across the heavily armed Kashmir frontier for more than 12 hours overnight and into Tuesday in what the Indian army called the worst violation of a 2003 cease-fire agreement between the nuclear-armed neighbors. The night-long gunbattle came after one Indian soldier and four Pakistanis were killed Monday along the heavily armed frontier that divides Indian- and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, the Indian army said. Pakistan denied its soldiers were killed. India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir. However, the frontier has been largely quiet since a 2003 cease-fire agreement, which has formed the cornerstone of a peace process between the two countries. Both sides have blamed the other for violating the cease-fire and New Delhi has accused Islamabad of helping Islamic rebels sneak into its part of Kashmir, a charge Islamabad denies. Nearly a dozen Islamic rebel groups have been fighting since 1989 for Kashmir's independence from India or its merger with Pakistan. More than 68,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in the conflict.

ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) — Turkish warplanes attacked Kurdish rebels in Iraq's north on Tuesday, killing a group of guerrillas gathered at a mountain cave, the military said. The Turkish strikes, which a pro-Kurdish news agency said were followed by shelling from Iran, came two days after bombs planted in an Istanbul neighborhood killed 17 people. The government blamed Kurdish rebels, who denied involvement in the deadliest attack on civilians in five years. The military said in a statement Tuesday that warplanes attacked rebel targets in northern Iraq, where the leadership of the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, is based. The statement said many of a 40-strong rebel group outside a cave at Mount Qandil were killed. Turkey's military has said Turkey and IranIraq as a springboard for attacks on their countries. PKK rebels, who seek autonomy for Turkey's Kurds (yet another Islamic sect), have fought the Turkish state since 1984 in a war that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

  • JJ Commentary: Muslims continue to be the leading cause of war and terrorism across the globe.

Nonaligned Nations Blame U.S.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's president on Tuesday blamed the U.S. and other "big powers" for global ills such as nuclear proliferation and AIDS, and accused them of exploiting the U.N. for their own gain and the developing world's loss. But, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, time was on the poor countries' side. "The big powers are going down," Ahmadinejad told foreign ministers of the Nonaligned Movement meeting in Tehran. "They have come to the end of their power, and the world is on the verge of entering a new, promising era." The more than 100-member NAM is made up of such diverse members as communist Cuba, Jamaica and India and depicts itself as bloc-free. But most members share a critical view of the U.S and the developed world in general. And with Iran assuming the chairmanship of the conference Tuesday, Ahmadinejad's keynote speech was tailored to reflect the struggle that some NAM members see themselves in against the world's rich and powerful countries.
  • JJ Commentary: Unfortunately, there is some validity to these claims, as exhibited by our materialistic/greedy tendencies and an increasingly degenerate society. However, the true threat to world peace comes from Muslim militants whose only goal is to subject the entire world to Islam.


LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- The AIDS epidemic among African-Americans in some parts of the United States is as severe as in parts of Africa, according to a report out Tuesday. "Left Behind - Black America: A Neglected Priority in the Global AIDS" is intended to raise awareness and remind the public that the "AIDS epidemic is not over in America, especially not in Black America," says the report, published by the Black AIDS Institute, an HIV/AIDS think tank focused exclusively on African-Americans. "AIDS in America today is a black disease," says Phill Wilson, founder and CEO of the institute and himself HIV-positive for 20 years. "2006 CDC data tell us that about half of the just over 1 million Americans living with HIV or AIDS are black." Although black people represent only about one in eight Americans, one in every two people living with HIV in the United States is black, the report notes. AIDS remains the leading cause of death among black women between ages 25 and 34. It's the second-leading cause of death in black men 35-44

JJ Commentary: Pestilence is one of the key end-time signs in many Biblical prophecies (e.g. Matthew 24:7).

Satanic "Ten Commandments"

WORLDNETDAILY: A Christian organization is pressuring the community of Elberton, Ga., to tear down a massive, granite monument that lists an alternative set of Ten Commandments that the organization labels satanic. The monument, known as the Georgia Guidestones, was built under a cloud of mystery in 1980. It lists 10 commandments in eight different languages, including a call to establish a new world language, limit human population to 500 million and avoid being "a cancer on the Earth." "We have atheists and Satanists getting the Bible's Ten Commandments removed from public property," said Mark Dice, spokesman for the group The Resistance, "yet the satanic Georgia Guidestones have stood for decades, and nobody seems to care. Well, we do." Comparing the monument's command to "maintain humanity under 500 million in perpetual balance with nature" with an estimated world's population of over 6 billion, Dice told WND, "Regardless of anyone's religion, I think they would find it objectionable that there's this monument that calls for the elimination of over 90 percent of the world's population." Dice told WND his group is contacting officials of the Elberton community, trying to rally citizens of the town to pressure their leaders and hoping to generate grassroots opposition from around the country. Since the land the monument sits upon is owned by a private trust and is not public property, Dice said, the battle against the monument will have to take place in the court of public opinion, rather than a court of law.

Housing Bailout

Is it a remedy for the worst housing slump the nation has suffered in decades? Or merely a taxpayer-funded bailout that will fail to reverse the plunge in home prices, the surge in foreclosures and the grave threat that overhangs the economy? The housing act, which won final approval in Congress on Saturday and which President Bush has said he will sign, is historic in its sweep and ambition. It aims to provide relief to homeowners, incentives to buyers, guidance to lenders and oversight to vital government-sponsored entities, such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Who, really, will benefit? And for how long? Will the legislation make a real difference for those who most desperately need help? It depends on whom you ask. The act has plenty of fans. But skepticism abounds, too.

On paper, the act holds out help for thousands in need:

•Up to 400,000 homeowners at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure.

•First-time buyers who can't afford full down payments.

•States and cities that will receive money to redevelop abandoned and foreclosed homes.

•People in need of mortgage counseling.

•Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which own or guarantee nearly half of the nation's mortgages and which now have a rescue plan.

But is it enough? Even if 400,000 homeowners can avoid foreclosure — a figure that a few critics dispute — some estimates put the number of potential foreclosures from 2007 through 2012 at up to 6 million.

JJ Commentary: It is somewhat irksome to incur more taxpayer debt to bail out greedy developers and stupid consumers.

Housing Prices Continue to Drop

NEW YORK (AP) — A closely watched housing index shows home prices continued to fall in May, as the housing slump deepened nationwide. The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city index, released Tuesday, is off 15.8% in May compared with a year ago. The steepest decline in the index is in Las Vegas, where prices were down 28.4% from a year ago. Miami is a close second, with prices down 28.3% from last year. Phoenix is down 26.5%.

U.S. Economy

WASHINGTON — The White House has increased its estimate for next year's deficit to nearly $490 billion, a record figure that will saddle the next president with deepening budget problems in his first year in office, a report due out Monday shows. The projected deficit for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 is being driven higher by the continuing economic slowdown and larger-than-anticipated costs of the two-year, $168 billion fiscal stimulus package passed by Congress, said two senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the report. In February, President Bush predicted the 2009 deficit would be $407 billion. The rising deficit for 2009 marks a sharp turnaround for Bush's fiscal legacy. He inherited a $128 billion surplus when he came into office in 2001. It soon turned to red ink because of a recession, the Sept. 11 attacks and the war on terrorism.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The number of miles driven on U.S. highways in May fell a record 3.7%, or 9.6 billion, from last year because of soaring fuel costs, the U.S. Transportation Department said Monday. It was the biggest drop ever for any May, which usually sees increased traffic due to Memorial Day vacations and the beginning of summer. "This continues a seven-month trend that amounts to 40.5 billion fewer miles traveled between November 2007 and May 2008 than the same period a year before," the department said.

USA TODAY: Fuel and energy costs are rising so quickly for the USA's public school districts that nearly one in seven is considering cutting back to four-day weeks this fall. One in four is considering limits on athletics and other extracurricular activities, and nearly one in three is eliminating teaching jobs. In the first detailed look at how fuel costs are affecting schools, a survey by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) finds 99% of superintendents contacted say they're feeling the pinch — and 77% say they're not getting any help from their state. The AASA survey of 546 superintendents, out today, follows an informal poll last month that found fuel and heating costs rising from 10% to 32% over last year. Other surveys have found that transportation costs are up by as much as 40% in the nation's 14,100 school districts. The new figures paint a vivid picture, finding that:

• 15% of districts are eliminating bus routes and either eliminating or modifying extracurricular offerings or sports.

• 15% are considering moving to a four-day school week.

• 44% are cutting back on field trips.

• 29% are eliminating or modifying teaching positions.

WASHINGTON — More than 1.6 million businesses owe the federal government in excess of $58 billion in delinquent payroll taxes, interest and penalties, including money withheld from employees' salaries, a congressional report says. The numbers haven't changed much in a decade despite Internal Revenue Service enforcement, the Government Accountability Office found. In 1998, about 1.8 million businesses owed about $49 billion. Today, however, more debts are longstanding. Nearly 15,000 employers owe at least five years' worth of taxes, and nearly 500 owe for 10 years, the study says. "Paying taxes isn't an option for hardworking Americans, yet these businesses act like they are exempt from this basic civic responsibility," Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., who sought the study, said in a statement. The lost payroll taxes are part of a much larger "tax gap" that each year costs the government more than $400 billion in unpaid taxes. An IRS report found that the tax gap was $345 billion in 2001 alone.

Runaway Inflation

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe's bank chief plans new currency reforms -- removing "more zeros" from the plummeting Zimbabwe dollar and raising the limit on cash withdrawals -- to tackle the country's runaway inflation and cash shortages, state media reported Sunday. Previous currency reforms have failed to tame Zimbabwe's inflation -- officially pegged at 2.2 million percent a year but estimated by independent analysts to be closer to 12.5 million percent. It also has become virtually impossible to get access to cash as the country's economic collapse worsens. Authorities last week released a new 100 billion dollar bank note. By Sunday it was not enough even to buy a scarce loaf of bread in what has become one of the world's most expensive -- and impoverished -- countries.

  • JJ Commentary: And we worry about inflation rates over 5%!!

Veteran Victims

WASHINGTON — More than 22,000 veterans have sought help from a special suicide hotline in its first year, and 1,221 suicides have been averted, the government says. According to a recent RAND Corp. study, roughly one in five soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan displays symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, putting them at a higher risk for suicide. Researchers at Portland State University found that male veterans are twice as likely to commit suicide than men who are not veterans. The VA teamed up with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to launch the hotline last July after years of criticism that the VA wasn't doing enough to help wounded soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. In April, two veterans groups sued the VA, citing long delays for processing applications and other problems in treatment for veterans at risk for suicide. The department has spent $2.9 million on the hotline thus far.

The hotline receives up to 250 calls per day. Kemp said callers are divided evenly between veterans from the Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam wars. The VA estimates that every year 6,500 veterans take their own lives. The mental health director for the VA, Ira Katz, said in an e-mail last December that of the 18 veterans who commit suicide each day, four to five of them are under VA care, and 12,000 veterans under VA care are attempting suicide each year.

New World Order Setback

WORLDNETDAILY: The Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America is dead, says Robert A. Pastor, the American University professor who for more than a decade has been a major proponent of building a North American Community. "The new president will probably discard the SPP," Pastor wrote in an article titled "The Future of North America," published in the current July/August issue of the Council on Foreign Relations magazine Foreign Affairs. The SPP, which critics contend is a step toward a North American Union, is an agreement to increase cooperation on security and economic issues signed by the leaders of the U.S., Mexico and Canada in 2005. Despite having no authorization from Congress, the Bush administration launched extensive working-group activity to implement the agreement. The working groups – ranging from e-commerce, to aviation policy, to borders and immigration – have counterparts in Mexico and Canada.

"The April summit meeting was probably the last hurrah for the SPP," Pastor wrote, referring to the fourth annual SPP meeting held in April in New Orleans. Pastor attributes the failure of SPP to its largely bureaucratic nature and the decision policy makers made to keep SPP largely below the radar of public opinion. "The strategy of acting on technical issues in an incremental, bureaucratic way and keeping the issues away from public view has generated more suspicion than accomplishments," Pastor admitted. Pastor blames critics for the failure of the SPP, charging it has come under attack from both ends of the political spectrum.

JJ Commentary: This is a setback for the New World Order globalists, but be assured, they will continue to work toward the one-world government prophesied in Revelation 13

Weather Woes Continue

TOKYO (AP) — Four people died Monday in central Japan after being swept away in torrential rains that caused floods and mudslides and prompted an evacuation order for 50,000 people, officials said. In the city of Kanazawa, about 180 miles northwest of Tokyo, heavy rain flooded houses and led authorities to issue a mass evacuation order, said Hiroyuki Tatsuda, a city spokesman. "We were inundated in just a couple hours this morning," Tatsuda said. "We haven't had such heavy rain for years."

MARTINSVILLE, Ind. — The flooding that swamped large areas of the Midwest took with it some of the region's most valuable resource: soil. Now farmers and environmentalists are at odds over what to do with erosion-prone land — take their chances planting crops on marginal land in hopes of good yields and high grain prices, or plant trees, native grasses or ground cover that act as a natural flood buffer. The floods may have caused up to $3 billion in crop losses in Iowa and $800 million in crop damage in Indiana, according to estimates from agriculture secretaries in those states.

Earthquakes Increasing

TOKYO (AP) — A Japanese woman Tuesday became the first victim of a powerful earthquake that hit northern Japan last week when she died of injuries from the quake, local media said. The 64-year-old woman had suffered brain hemorrhaging after she fell from her hospital bed in the city of Iwaki during the earthquake, according to Japanese media reports. The earthquake, which had a magnitude of 6.8, struck early Thursday near the coast of Iwate, 280 miles northeast of Tokyo. Iwaki is in nearby Fukushima Prefecture. The quake injured at least 99 people, triggered landslides and cut power to thousands of homes.
  • JJ Commentary: The frequency of earthquakes has been increasing, a sign of the times that Jesus told us to watch for in Matthew 24:7

Wildfires Increasing

MARIPOSA, Calif. — Visitors to Yosemite National Park weighed whether to cut their vacations short Tuesday as a destructive wildfire raging miles from the famed wilderness threatened thousands of homes and left evacuees stranded. Authorities said late Monday the blaze tearing through a steep, dry river canyon had destroyed 25 homes, more than double the number reported earlier in the day. The fire has forced the evacuation of about 300 homes in the nearby towns of Midpines and Coulterville and is endangering as many as 4,000 others. More than 46 square miles of mostly wilderness terrain have burned since a target shooter sparked the wildfire on Friday. The fire was 10% contained Monday night as it burned about 12 miles from Yosemite National Park, which remained open.

  • JJ Commentary: This year continues the trend of increasing wildfire damage, with the average acreage burned for the last five years (4,464,408 acres) almost double the preceding five years (2,592,000 acres), another end-times sign.

Friday, July 11, 2008

More Mortgage Misery

Shares of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae dropped sharply in premarket trading Friday as Wall Street continued to worry about the health of the mortgage companies and the potential for a government takeover. The fears worsened after the New York Times reported Friday that the government is considering taking over Fannie and Freddie if their funding problems worsen. Freddie shares plunged 22%, and Fannie fell 13.8% Thursday, in part because former St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank president William Poole told Bloomberg News the mortgage giants were technically insolvent.

The Times said the government is considering a plan that would place the companies into conservatorship, citing people briefed about the plan. This would mean the shares would be worth little or nothing, and the losses on home loans they own or guarantee — half of all U.S. mortgages — would be paid by taxpayers.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Iranian Tensions Mount

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran test-fired more long-range missiles overnight in a second round of exercises meant to show that the country can defend itself against any attack by the U.S. or Israel, Iranian state television reported Thursday. The weapons have "special capabilities" and included missiles launched from naval ships in the Persian Gulf, along with torpedoes and surface-to-surface missiles, the broadcast said. Among the missiles Iran said it tested Wednesday was a new version of the Shahab-3, which officials have said has a range of 1,250 miles and is armed with a 1-ton conventional warhead.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Iran's missile test on Wednesday proves "there is a real threat," but he downplayed the possibility of war in connection with that nation's nuclear ambitions.

Unprecedented California Wildfires

Scorching heat and whipping winds kept stoking wildfires across California on Wednesday, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes and spewing smoke into already polluted skies.From Santa Barbara County to the Oregon border, 323 fires continued to rage, down from a peak of 1,781. The fires, which began in June, have burned 675,631 acres, a figure that threatens to topple a record set in 1936, when 756,696 acres burned during the entire fire season."This is definitely unprecedented to have this many fires this early in the season," said Daniel Berlant, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as CAL FIRE.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Economic Woes Continue

The Dow is down 15.4% this year, 20.8% below its October record high and, as of Wednesday, officially in its first bear market in almost six years. The 50% spurt in oil this year to a record $143.57 a barrel has deepened the economic gloom in the USA and delayed an expected recovery. Increasingly, as oil goes, so goes the stock market. If oil shoots up to $170 a barrel this summer, as OPEC warned, or hits the $200 target of investment bank Goldman Sachs, stocks are in for a rough ride. The Dow is already near a two-year low.

Employers cut payrolls by 62,000 in June, the sixth month of nationwide job losses, underscoring the economy's fragile state. The unemployment rate held steady at 5.5%. The Labor Department's report Thursday showed continued caution on the part of employers who are chafing under zooming energy prices and are uncertain about how long the economy will be stuck in a sluggish mode, reflecting fallout from housing, credit and financial troubles. So far this year, the economy has lost a total of 438,00 jobs, an average of 73,000 a month.

Wildfire Update

Californians will continue fighting off hundreds of wildfires over the holiday weekend, with 31 miles along Highway 1 already evacuated and hot, dry weather setting the stage for even more fires. Mandatory evacuations were issued for most of the 850 residents in the scenic coastal community of Big Sur on Wednesday when an out-of-control wildfire jumped a fire line, threatening more homes. The blaze had destroyed 16 homes and charred about 82 square miles of forest since it was started by lightning on June 21 in the Los Padres National Forest. It was about 3% contained Wednesday. Drought, heat and lightning storms have contributed to more than 1,100 fires that have blackened 680 square miles of land statewide in the past two weeks. The blazes have destroyed 60 homes and other buildings while threatening thousands more.

A Plague of Mosquitos

CHICAGO (AP) — First came the floods — now the mosquitoes. An explosion of pesky insects are pestering clean-up crews and just about anyone venturing outside in the waterlogged Midwest. In some parts of Iowa there are 20 times the normal number, and in Chicago up to five times more than usual. The good news is these are mostly floodwater mosquitoes, not the kind that usually carry West Nile virus and other diseases. But they are very hungry, and sometimes attack in swarms with a stinging bite. Heavy rain followed by high temperatures creates ideal conditions for these bugs, whose eggs hatch in the soil after heavy rains. Scientists call them nuisance mosquitoes.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Drivers Fuel Downturn in Auto Sales

The situation facing the automakers remains grim: Buyers want gas-miser cars, and not even car-heavy Toyota has enough of those to satisfy demand. Total auto sales were down 18.3% compared with June 2007, coming in at 1.45 million, according to Autodata. Sales could have been higher, said officials at General Motors, Ford and Toyota, if the automakers had enough four-cylinder engines. Further hurting new vehicle sales, however, are falling prices for used SUVs. Ford says sales of more fuel-efficient crossovers are hurt because people who want to trade in SUVs can't, because trade-in values are too low.

Rural Gas Woes

Soaring gas prices are a double-whammy for many rural residents: They often pay more than people who live in cities and suburbs because of the expense of hauling fuel to their communities, and they must drive greater distances for life's necessities: work, groceries, medical care and, of course, gas. Meanwhile, incomes typically are lower in rural areas, making increasingly high gas prices an especially urgent concern. Rural households also are more likely to have older, less fuel-efficient vehicles such as pickups, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) says. The average age of a vehicle in a rural household: 8.7 years, compared with 7.9 years for an urban vehicle.

Rural residents do more driving, too — an average of 3,100 miles a year more than urban dwellers, the FHWA says. A May survey by the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS), a fuel analysis company, and Wright Express, a company that collects data on credit card transactions, found that people in rural areas spend as much as 16.02% of their monthly family income on gas, while people in urban areas of New York and New Jersey spend as little as 2.05%.

Economy Continues to Stagnate

Economists tell The New York Times that they see the current downturn lasting into next year. “It’s a slow-motion recession,” Ethan Harris of Lehman Brothers is quoted as saying. “In a normal recession, things kind of collapse and get so weak that you have nowhere to go but up. But we’re not getting the classic two or three negative quarters. Instead, we’re expecting two years of sub-par growth. Growth that’s not enough to generate jobs. It’s kind of a chronic rather than an acute pain.”

Rich and poor nations have more in common this year -- a growing sense of economic insecurity, the U.N. says in an annual survey of world economic and social trends released Tuesday. Their shared anxiety is largely due to "trade shocks" from rising oil and food prices, rattled financial markets, natural disasters and armed conflicts, the report said. As usual, though, it is the impoverished who fare worse. "The food riots that broke out in a number of countries in early 2008 have laid bare the fragility of economic livelihoods for those at the bottom of the development ladder," the report says. It lists 35 nations that need help because of a food crisis, led by Iraq, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Somalia and Lesotho, where food insecurity is greatest because of drought and windstorms or floods and, in some areas, fighting.

Nearly all Americans have felt the sting of inflation in recent months. But when you're retired and your sole means of support is a fixed amount that arrives each month — from Social Security and, for the lucky ones, a pension — the pain is especially severe. Until recently, many retirees had assumed they had enough income to retire on. That was before gas and food prices began racing out of control. "By any measure, people who are retired are bearing the worst brunt of the economic slump," says Jim Dau, a spokesman for AARP. "Because they're living on fixed incomes, they're just getting crushed on food and medicine that they can't do without."

Hell-Fires Burn in California

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Weary crews battling blazes across northern and central California soon will get some help from the National Guard, the first time the troops have been called to ground-based firefighting duty since 1977. Already this year, drought conditions, high temperatures and a series of lightning storms have contributed to more than 680 square miles being scorched statewide. Federal fire managers predict an increase in severe wildfire activity in northern California through October due to unusually hot, dry weather and scant rain. The fires have created a smoky haze so stifling that some doctors in the San Joaquin Valley say their waiting rooms have been crowding with patients struggling to breathe.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Jerusalem Defiled

Christian Zionist Jim Hutchens says the recent homosexual pride parade in Jerusalem merely contributed to the moral climate that will bring about the besieging of Jerusalem foretold by prophets of the Bible. Homosexuals and their supporters marched through the Holy City Thursday in direct defiance of the Hebraic scriptures as Orthodox Jews held a counter protest nearby. The so-called "gay pride" parade was allowed to proceed after Israel's Supreme Court rejected a petition to ban the event.

Hutchens, president of The Jerusalem Connection International (TJCI), says the Bible warns of a worldwide moral decline that affects the Holy Land as well. "There is a judgment that God brings worldwide and on Israel, as a matter of fact. And I think those are the events that lead up to what we refer to as Armageddon, the apocalyptic besieging of Jerusalem," Hutchens contends.

Arizona Governor Vetoes Partial-Birth Abortion Ban

Yesterday, in the midst of the marriage amendment debate, Governor Napolitano vetoed the partial-birth abortion ban for the second time this session. Partial-birth abortion is the gruesome procedure in which the baby's entire body is delivered, except for the head, and then the baby is killed by being stabbed in the neck with scissors and having its brain vacuumed out.

In her first veto letter, the Governor stated two concerns with the bill and that she "stand[s] ready to work on these issues in a bipartisan manner." Senator Linda Gray took the Governor at her word and introduced a bill that addressed the Governor's two concerns - giving doctors a chance to have the state medical board determine whether the partial-birth abortion was necessary to save the life of the mother and limiting the penalty to not more than two years in prison. Yet despite these changes and continuing bipartisan support in both Legislative chambers, the Governor vetoed the bill, thereby preventing Arizona from having a clear law preventing this horrific practice that literally takes the life of a preborn child.

In this second veto letter, the Governor falsely claimed the new ban would introduce "more criminal penalties...into the relationship between a woman and her physician." The state ban tracked identically the federal criminal penalties. A state ban on partial-birth is needed because the federal law only applies in limited scenarios with limited enforcement options.

Banning partial-birth abortion is widely supported beyond traditional pro-life groups, and the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that bans on this horrific procedure are constitutional. Governor Napolitano remains unwilling to consider the view held by the overwhelming majority of Arizonans that the partial-birth abortion procedure is appalling.

Arizona Marriage Amendment Back from the Dead

The marriage protection amendment may have been last on Arizona's legislative agenda, but it certainly wasn't least. The hotly debated initiative, which would give voters the opportunity to join Florida and California in protecting marriage this November, would not die, despite the desperate attempts by liberal members to kill it. In fact, the Senate discussion was so heated on both sides that it went down in the record books as one of the longest sessions in the history of the Arizona legislature. For the pro-family groups watching this nail-biting exchange, it was a long day that ended in dramatic fashion when Senate President Tim Bee cast the final vote in favor of putting the referendum on the ballot.

We congratulate the Center for Arizona Policy (CAP) for persevering even when the outcome looked bleak. As recently as last week, the Senate narrowly voted down an attempt to put the marriage protection amendment on the ballot. Thanks to the work of CAP, pro-marriage leaders in Arizona pulled the provision back from the brink and revived it on Friday before the session concluded. By a 16-4 vote, the Senate entrusted the definition of marriage to the people. If you'd like to learn more about what's at stake in November, log on to www.frc.org today and order your free marriage protection kit. Help empower your friends, church, and community to defend the union of a man and woman!

Abortion Praise Report

A federal court ruled against Planned Parenthood and rejected an injunction against a state law requiring doctors to tell women seeking abortions that they may face serious medical conditions and will "terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being." The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit issued a 7-4 ruling Friday to lift an injunction against the South Dakota informed consent abortion law. Attorneys representing the Alliance Defense Fund filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the Family Research Council in defense of the law.

The court said U.S. Supreme Court rulings allow a state to "use its regulatory authority to require a physician to provide truthful, non-misleading information relevant to a patient's decision to have an abortion, even if that information might also encourage the patient to choose childbirth over abortion." The South Dakota act defines a human being as "an individual living member of the species Homo sapiens, including the unborn human being during the entire embryonic and fetal ages from fertilization to full gestation."

Faithful Charity

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush said Saturday that religious charities, partly financed with federal money, have helped reduce homelessness, found jobs for former inmates and helped combat malaria and HIV/AIDS overseas.Bush used his weekly radio address to trumpet the "remarkable difference these groups have made over the past eight years."

The president said he wants to level the playing field so religious charities and secular charities compete for government money on an equal footing. His White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives survived a legal challenge from a group of atheists and agnostics last year when the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that ordinary taxpayers cannot sue to stop conferences that help religious charities apply for federal grants.

Barack Obama, arguing that it makes sense for the federal government to join with religious organizations to solve social problems, said Tuesday that he wants to continue President Bush's initiative to promote "faith-based" social welfare programs."Few are closer to the people than our churches, synagogues, temples and mosques," the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said. Such partnerships can take place without violating the Constitution, he said.
  • JJ Commentary: Charity is supposed to be the responsibility of the Church, not the government.

Wildfires Grow

SAN FRANCISCO — The unprecedented number and size of wildfires burning in California this year has forced firefighters to strategically choose which ones to tackle.Their plan is this: Crews are dispatched to protect communities in the path of flames, while blazes are allowed to chew through acres of forest land.Officials say the tactic is necessary in a fire season that already has seen hot weather, rough terrain and lightning storms complicate efforts to bring blazes under control.

What is extraordinary this year is the number of fires burning at the same time, Kirchner said. The weekend of June 21 saw some 1,200 fires burning -- a figure Forest Service officials said appeared to be an all-time record in California.
  • JJ Commentary: Wildfires are another sign of the end-times and increasing tribulation.