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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Middle East Out of Control

The Middle East is Heating Up

Jerusalem celebrates reunification

JERUSALEM, May 8 (UPI) -- Jerusalem took on a festive mood Wednesday to mark the 46th anniversary of the reunification of the city after East Jerusalem was captured in the 1967 war.

Celebrations kicked off Tuesday night at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem, attended by rabbis and government ministers and parliamentarians.

"Jerusalem is the spirit of the nation and spirit cannot be divided," Israel Radio quoted Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon saying at the ceremony.

The holiday is celebrated primarily by Israel's religious community.

Other events planned for Wednesday include the central ceremony at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem, the scene of intense battles during the 1967 war. Also, the traditional Flag Dance procession, which ends at the Western Wall.

Members of the Ethiopian community also mark the day to commemorate the Ethiopian Jews who died on their way to Israel, the Ministry of Tourism website said.

Thousands of Israel Police and border police were deployed in the capital to monitor the closing of main roads for events and enhance security, Israel Radio said.

To mark Jerusalem Day, the Central Bureau of Statistics released figures showing that Jerusalem had a population of about 804,400 people at the end of 2011 and is the largest city in the country. Some 499,400 Jews reside in the capital, 281,100 Muslims, 14,700 Christians, 200 Druze and an additional 9,000 residents not classified by religion, the bureau said.

Read more: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2013/05/08/Jerusalem-celebrates-reunification/UPI-70831368004114/#ixzz2SiK4GElp

sex 'superbug' discovered in Japan

Doctors are warning that a drug-resistant strain of gonorrhea could be more deadly than AIDS, and are urging members of US Congress to spend $54 million for the development of a drug that would fight it.

"This might be a lot worse than AIDS in the short run because the bacteria is more aggressive and will affect more people quickly," Alan Christianson, a doctor of naturopathic medicine, told CNBC.

The new strain of gonorrhea, H041, was first discovered in 2009 after a sex worker fell victim to the superbug in Japan. Medical officials reported that the medication-resilient ‘sex superbug’ was discovered in Hawaii in May 2011, and has since spread to California and Norway, the International Business Times reports.

Nearly 30 million people die from AIDS-related causes each year, and the H041 superbug could have similar consequences, according to Alan Christianson, a doctor of naturopathic medicine.

"Getting gonorrhea from this strain might put someone into septic shock and death in a matter of days,"Christianson said. "This is very dangerous."

The gonorrhea strain has not yet claimed any lives, but the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have asked Congress for $54 million to find an antibiotic to treat the strain.

In a Capitol Hill briefing last week, health officials said an education and public awareness campaign is crucial in minimizing the effective of HO41. William Smith, executive director of the National Coalition for STD Directors, said that if the ‘sex superbug’ spreads, it could quickly kill many people before a treatment is discovered. And that risk becomes increasingly more likely if Congress does not provide the funds to find a cure, he said.

"It's an emergency situation. As time moves on, it's getting more hazardous," he told members of Congress.

"We have to keep beating the drum on this," he added. "The potential for disaster is great."

In the United States, there are 20 million new STD infections each year, which results in about $16 billion in medical costs, the CDC reports. More than 800,000 of these cases gonorrhea infections, most of which occur in young people ages 15 to 24. Gonorrhea is sometimes difficult to detect, since it shows no symptoms in about half of all women. Those who fall ill to the deadly strain may not notice it until it’s too late.

“That’s what’s kind of scary about this,” Smith said.

Although health officials have widely reported that cases of H041 were discovered in California, Hawaii and Norway, the CDC has disputed those claims and told CNBC on Monday that the infection has not been confirmed anywhere outside of Japan. The CDC did, however, make an announcement in 2011 that it was noticing greater gonorrhea bacterial resistance to certain types of antibiotics in Hawaii and California.

CDC officials said that the US and Norwegian cases were treated effectively with antibiotics not routinely recommended and that these cases were mistakenly identified as H041. But the agency continues to urge Congress for research funding, indicating that the risk of infection is high regardless of where the cases occurred.

Christianson is urging people to practice safe sex and get STD tests if they are in a new relationship, since a superbug infection could be around the corner.

"This is a disaster just waiting to happen," he told CNBC. "It's time to do something about it before it explodes. These superbugs, including the gonorrhea strain, are a health threat. We need to move now before it gets out of hand."



Europe Hijacked by the EU Project

Do “Good” People Go To Hell?

My dear friends, one of Satan’s biggest lies and deceptions that the children of Adam have eagerly received and have been deceived by since the fall in Eden is that “good” people go to Heaven (Isa. 1:18, Rom. 1:18-32,3, 10:2-4, 2 Cor. 4:3-4, Eph. 2:1-2, James 2:10).

Heaven itself is all vanity and desolation if Almighty God and His ETERNAL RIGHTEOUS Person are absent from it (Rev. 21, 22:1-5). How the millions and may I say billions of this world’s inhabitants have sought to remake or redefine Almighty God’s RIGHTEOUS Person and His ETERNAL RIGHTEOUS Heaven with a corrupt fallen one using the fallen and sinful flesh and mind (Rom. 10:2-4, 1 John 2:15-17, Jude 1:10, Rev. 21:8, 22:15). If one does NOT want to fellowship in SPIRIT and TRUTH (John 4:24) nor hear or obey Almighty God’s RIGHTEOUS Word and Precepts then why would one ever want to go to Almighty God’s RIGHTEOUS Heaven (Matt. 6:10)? They would FOREVER despise Almighty God and His RIGHTEOUS Heaven and continue in their godless rebellion. In the end, TRUE Heaven would be an absolute torment to them (Prov. 29:27, John3:19-21)

If one does NOT want to fellowship in SPIRIT and TRUTH nor hear or obey Almighty God’s RIGHTEOUS Word and Precepts then why would one ever want to go to Almighty God’s RIGHTEOUS Heaven?

These haters of ETERNAL RIGHTEOUSNESS would NEVER want to abide in such a place and so by REJECTING the Savior of the world and His ETERNAL remedies for their lost fallen estate they have FULLY chosen to reject going to Almighty God’s Heaven in which dwells Almighty God’s RIGHTEOUS Person (John3:16-17, 36, 1 Cor. 15:24-28, Rev. 21, 22;1-5). I myself and I am sure that you also know many dear conservative moral individuals who are trusting THEIR “good” works and not fully and completely in the PERSON and WORK of God the Son (John 3:36, 6:28-29, Rom. 5:1-2, 10:2-4, Eph. 2:8-9, Titus 3:4-7, 1 John 2:2). Tragically these though very moral and conservative are trusting in THEIR conservatism. They are just as godless, lawless and wicked because in their heart of hearts they have deceived themselves and have rejected REALITY and the ETERNAL RIGHTEOUS demanded by Almighty God (Rom. 10:2-4).

Oh my dear friends how many have drunk the demonic kool- aid of self righteousness unto ETERNAL damnation and ruin.

Whether you are liberal, moderate or conservative, virtuous, vile, wretched, moral or wherever you might find yourself on the human ideological spectrum; ALL have TRANSGRESSED and ALL have FALLEN SHORT of the RIGHTEOUSNESS of Almighty God (Isa. 53:6, Rom. 3:23). As it were, all of Adam’s fallen race area broken egg(Rom. 5:12-21). TRUE insanity in light of the ETERNAL RIGHTEOUS Person of Almighty God is the mindset of people who have deceived themselves and believe that they – as fallen individuals for all practical purposes are “good”; and not just”good” but”good” enough and not just good enough but PERFECTLY RIGHTEOUS to stand PERFECTLY before the ETERNAL RIGHTEOUS Person of Almighty God in the Day of Judgment. Oh my dear friends how many have drunk the demonic kool- aid of self righteousness unto ETERNAL damnation and ruin(Matt.7:21-23). This mindset is the ultimate position of defiance that one can make to seek to justify ones actions throughout time (Matt. 7:21-24).

Each human being has conceived and has created in their heart their “own” standard of what “good” is (Rom. 1:18-32, Jude 1)? These have blindly, ignorantly and even consciously rewritten the ETERNAL moral absolutes of Almighty God; they have twisted the Holy Scriptures redefining RIGHTEOUSNESS and have allowed their lawless mind, fallen nature and unbounded emotions to dictate and mandate that which is “good” based on fallen humanities own image and likeness (Rom. 1:18-32, Jude 1:10). These (liberal, moderate or conservative) throughout their existence in time (born-die) have made continual comparisons with each other; always lowering the common denominator of “good” to their worse acquaintance seeking to justifying themselves in light of fallen humans and NEVER by the ETERNAL PERFECT STANDARD of Jesus Christ (Psalm 19:7,Rom. 10:2-4, 2 Cor. 10:2,18). Tragically the “good” in which people are trusting in is ETERNALLY in contrast with the RIGHTEOUS PERFECT ETERNAL ABSOLUTES of Almighty God(Psalm 19:7, 119:160, Rom. 10:2-4, James 2:10). If we as fallen humanity leave Almighty God and His Word out of the ETERNAL equation of the TRUE definition of “good” then we only deceive ourselves and our willful ignorance will not deliver us in the Day of Judgment (Rev. 20:11-15). Almighty God has put in the heart of every human being that we ALL are accountable to our Creator and that we all need God’s Savior (John 1:1-5, Rom. 1;18-32). When we reject this Divine revelation we are left only with ETERNAL EVERLASTING ruin and perdition for our fallen humanity and estate (Isa. 48:22, Matt. 13:42, Rev.20:11-15, 21:8, 22:11).

If we as fallen humanity leave Almighty God and His Word out of the ETERNAL equation of the TRUE definition of “good” then we only deceive ourselves and our willful ignorance will not deliver us in the Day of Judgment.

My dear friends, contrary to mankind’s zealous self pretensions, disastrous perceptions and illusions “good” people DO NOT go to Heaven but are faced with FULL BLOWN REALITY of how lawless and vile they truly are and have been (Rom. 7). When one finally stands before the ETERNAL RIGHTEOUS PERSON of ALMIGHTY GOD the SON in that dreadful Day of reckoning no one will say boo (Rev. 20:11-15). All self imposed delusions, and deceptions will be totally EXPOSED and UNMASKED and ETERNAL REALITY and RIGHTEOUSNESS will be ETERNALLY manifested before the eyes of the lost soul. Oh my dear friends how wretched the individual will be in that Day. For all is established ETERNALLY and ETERNITY is EVER before that individual as they live out their ETERNAL EXISTENCE subject to the ETERNAL RIGHTEOUSNESS of Almighty God FOREVER (Mark 9:48, Rev.21:8).

My friend, in Heaven there are NO “good” people but ONLY those who have been redeemed by the Lamb of Almighty God. A TRUE Christian today or believer is one who truly recognizes that they have ZERO of the required PERFECT RIGHTEOUSNESS to stand before a HOLY, PERFECT and RIGHTEOUS God (Luke 18:13, Rom. 7:25-26) and have placed their complete trust in the Person and Work of Almighty God the Son; the Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:16-17,Rom. 10:2-4).
My friend, in Heaven there are NO “good” people but ONLY those who have been redeemed by the Lamb of Almighty God. A TRUE Christian today or believer is one who truly recognizes that they have ZERO of the required PERFECT RIGHTEOUSNESS to stand before a HOLY, PERFECT and RIGHTEOUS God.

My dear friend, if you are one of these moral relativist or RIGHTEOUS relativists who is deceiving themselves in to believing that you are “good enough” to inherit ETERNAL LIFE and ETERNAL pardon for your countless transgressions (heart, soul and mind) against the PERFECT LAW of Almighty God; then may you abandon your delusion and come to grips with ETERNAL REALITY. Why hide in a delusion. ALMIGHTY God LOVES you and sent His Son to DIE and be your PROPITIATION for YOU that you may live FOREVER with HIM in ETERNAL RIGHTEOUS bliss and harmony (John 3:16-17, 1 Cor. 2:9, Rev. 21, 22:1-5).

My dear friend I personally do not know how to say anything more wonderful than that!

Delusion leads to confusion and then deception leads to rejection, which in the end brings about ETERNAL damnation. My dear friendmay you chooseREPENTANCE, LIFE and REALITY with the Savior; for you will NEVER be the same again!

THE Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!


US Army Chief Suggests Military Intervention in Syria Before End of Summer

The U.S. Army’s top officer has said that the window of opportunity for a military assault on Syria is within the next three to four months and that budget cuts would render intervention after the end of summer unlikely.

Gen. Ray Odierno. Image: Defense.gov

Speaking with reporters yesterday Gen. Ray Odierno, Army chief of staff, warned that planned training cutbacks due to the sequester meant that if the Obama administration wanted to give the green light for intervention it would have to act quickly.

“Readiness is OK right now, but it’s degrading significantly because our training is reducing. So, the next three, four months, we probably have the capability to do it,” he said, adding, “Next year, it becomes a little bit more risky.”

Odierno made it clear that the longer it took to make the decision, the less likely the US is to intervene.

“If you ask me today, we have forces that can go. I think it will change over time because the longer we go canceling training and reducing our training, the readiness levels go down,” he said.

Odierno also praised FSA rebels, the majority of whom have pledged allegiance to and are being led by Al-Qaeda terrorists, for their fighting capabilities and said it was not a matter of if but when they claimed victory.

“I think from what I’ve seen is they have made some significant gains. I think they are controlling the territory. It makes you think that, you know, it’s going to be difficult for the regime over time to survive,” Odierno said.

However, recent victories by Assad’s forces, including the re-taking of central areas of Homs, are being seen by some as a reason for the west’s increased urgency to arm rebel fighters.

Odierno acknowledged the presence of terrorists amongst the FSA ranks, but attempted to downplay their role as comparatively minor.

“With the rebels, we do know there’s some terrorists in there,” he said. “Obviously, we don’t want them to be involved in the outcome, we don’t want them to gain power because of the impact they could have on the rest of the region — regionally and then potentially internationally.”

As the White House prepares to arm militants with heavy weaponry, the US Army and the Obama administration’s support for opposition fighters has puzzled many who point out that the FSA rebels are primarily comprised of sectarian extremists and jihadists who have repeatedly made it clear that they view America as a sworn enemy.

Rebels have been routinely caught ransacking Christian churches, burning US flags, chanting anti-American slogans and singing the praises of Osama Bin Laden as they glorify the 9/11 attacks, while also espousing their desire to fly the Al-Qaeda flag over the White House.

The administration has already sent well over half a billion dollars in aid to such groups, while the CIA has overseen “a secret airlift of arms and equipment” to rebels since early 2012, according to the New York Times.

Appetite amongst the America public for yet another US-led war is noticeably lackluster. A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found that only 10 per cent supported military intervention in Syria while 61 per cent opposed getting involved. Even if President Bashar Al-Assad’s forces used chemical weapons (the only reliable evidence suggests such weapons have actually been used by rebels), the figure favoring intervention remains at just 27 per cent.


China’s newspaper published a call for a review of Japan’s sovereignty over the island of Okinawa


China’s top newspaper on Wednesday published a call for a review of Japan’s sovereignty over the island of Okinawa—home to major U.S. bases—with the Asian powers already embroiled in a territorial row.

The lengthy article in the People’s Daily, China’s most-circulated newspaper and the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist party, argued that the country may have rights to the Ryukyu chain, which includes Okinawa.

The island is home to major U.S. air force and marine bases as well as 1.3 million people, who are considered more closely related to Japan in ethnic and linguistic terms than to China.

The authors of the article, two scholars at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, considered China’s top state-run think-tank, said the Ryukyus were a “vassal state” of China before Japan annexed the islands in the late 1800s.

“Unresolved problems relating to the Ryukyu Islands have reached the time for reconsideration,” wrote Zhang Haipeng and Li Guoqiang, citing post-World War II declarations that required Japan to return Chinese territory.

The article also repeated Chinese government arguments for China’s historical claims over a set of tiny uninhabited islets in the East China Sea known as Diaoyu in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese.

The two nations have stepped up a war of words over the dispute in recent months, with Beijing’s vessels regularly entering the waters around the Tokyo-controlled islands, stoking fears of armed conflict.

Questions over Japan’s right to Okinawa were probably aimed at raising the stakes in the East China Sea dispute, said Willy Lam, an expert on Chinese politics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

“I think this is psychological warfare,” he said, adding: “The major point is to put pressure on Japan so that the Japanese administration will be forced to make concessions over the Senkaku islands.”

Okinawa is the biggest of the Ryukyu islands, which stretch for about 1,000 kilometers from Japan’s mainland, and were the center of the Ryukyuan kingdom that paid tribute to Chinese emperors until it was absorbed by Japan in 1879.

But some Chinese see historical ties as a basis for sovereignty and dismiss Japan’s possession of the islands as a legacy of its aggressive expansionism that ended in defeat at the end of World War II.

China’s government does not make such claims, but state media have from time to time carried articles and commentaries questioning Japan’s authority.

China is also in dispute with southeast Asian neighbors over huge swathes of the South China Sea, which it claims based on a map published in the 1940s.

Analysts have said that Beijing is growing increasingly assertive in pressing its territorial claims, while nations across Asia have invested massively in upgrading their naval capacity.

Japan Today

The Mathematical Reality Is We’re Losing Over 600,000 Jobs a Month

The Dow Jones is soaring. The unemployment rate is stable. People are shopping. America is in recovery.

Or is it?

Despite all of the positive spin being put on the global and domestic economic recovery, the truth is that nothing of the sort is actually happening.

Any observant analyst can deduce that 15,000+ stock market values are a result of easy money being pumped into investment banks, who then slam that money straight into markets. The Fed itself is reportedly providing direct liquidity to the system. They can do this forever, so long as our creditors let them. And, until they’re stopped, they’ll continue to convince most Americans that financial markets and the economy have been stabilized.

Underneath all the hoop-la, however, is the reality of the situation.

The latest employment report from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics is a prime example of the shenanigans being played by government statisticians and their media cohorts behind the scenes.

While the official story is that non farm payrolls rose by 165,000 people last month leaving the unemployment rate at 7.5%, the truth is that the devil is in the details:

Now for the bad news.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased by 0.2 hour in April to 34.4 hours. Within manufacturing, the workweek decreased by 0.1 hour to 40.7 hours, and overtime declined by 0.1 hour to 3.3 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased by 0.1 hour to 33.7 hours. (See tables B-2 and B-7.)

This is a problem. If we look at the “employed” figure of 143,724,000 people a drop of 0.2 hours is a full-time-equivalent decrease of 1/2%. Applied to the employed population this amounts to an imputed economic decrease of 718,620 jobs!

That is, the loss of work-week hours of just 0.2 is the same economic impact as firing 700,000 people!

There is a huge problem coming this year and into next in this regard as the trend of cutting hours back to get under Obamacare limits is picking up steam and will continue.

Do not underestimate the economic impact of those hours-worked changes — you’d have to post up a +700k jobs figure to offset just this one month’s change in hourly workweek!

You’ll be told this is a “good report” and it is, on the surface. But I bet not one of the talking heads on CNBC runs the math on what the workweek means in terms of economic impact.

You heard it here first, and later this summer and into the fall when the jobs report continues to post up mid-100k numbers but consumer spending collapses into the toilet at a rate that is roughly identical to when we’re losing 600-700,000 jobs a month and people are scratching their heads trying to figure out why it’s happening as the stock market crashes, you will be one of the few who understands what has happened and why.

Via Karl Denninger’s Market Ticker

We may be creating jobs in America. But not only are we not creating enough jobs to offset the amount of people entering the workforce, those who have jobs are being forced to work fewer hours. Couple that with rising prices for essentials like food and energy being fueled by the Federal Reserve and US Treasury, and you’ve got quite a predicament.

They can show us their charts, make forward looking statements, cite rising stock markets, and try to play with the statistics to give us a perception of growth and improvement, but they cannot rewrite the basic laws of arithmetic.

This is going to end horribly for tens of millions of Americans and none of them see it coming.

Shift Plan

Syria can confront Israeli aggression: Assad

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said the country is able to confront Israeli aggression, in his first remarks since Israeli warplanes conducted airstrikes on Syria over the weekend.

"The recent Israeli aggressions expose the size of the complicity between the Israeli occupation, regional countries, and the West in backing the current events in Syria," Assad was quoted as saying on Tuesday by Lebanon’s Al-Manar television network. 

"The Syrian people and their heroic army… are capable of confronting this Israeli adventure, which represents one of the faces of terrorism that is targeting Syria every day."

On Friday and Sunday, Israeli warplanes carried out two airstrikes on Syria. Afterwards, the Syrian government called the attacks a “flagrant violation of international law.”

On Sunday, Lebanese President Michel Sleiman condemned the Israeli airstrikes on Syria. A statement issued by Lebanon’s presidential office read: “Sleiman strongly condemned Israel’s aggression on Syrian sites [which it carried out] by violating Lebanese airspace to carry out these attacks.”

“This act is not unusual for a mutual enemy [such as Israel] whose policy is based on aggression that takes advantage of the circumstances Syria is going through to carry out its aggression just as it used to do in Lebanon during its days of crisis,” the statement added.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry has sent letters to the UN Security Council stating that Israel’s aggression shows the links between Tel Aviv and terrorist groups operating in Syria, including the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front.

Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoabi told reporters in Damascus on Sunday that Syria had the right and the duty to defend its people by all available means and it would not give in to Israeli acts of aggression.

The Israeli attacks on Syria have made the Middle East more dangerous, the Syrian information minister stated.

The Syria crisis began in March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of soldiers and security personnel, have been killed in the violence.

The Syrian government says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals.



The Price Of Copper And 11 Other Recession Indicators That Are Flashing Red

There are a dozen significant economic indicators that are warning that the U.S. economy is heading into a recession.  The Dow may have soared past the 15,000 mark, but the economic fundamentals are telling an entirely different story.  If historical patterns hold up, the economy is heading for a very rocky stretch.  For example, the price of copper is called "Dr. Copper" by many economists because it so accurately forecasts the future direction of the U.S. economy.  

And so far this year the price of copper is way down.  But that is not the only indicator that is worrying economists.  Home renovation spending has fallen dramatically, retail spending is crashing in a way not seen since the last recession, manufacturing activity and consumer confidence are both declining, and troubling economic data continues to come pouring out of Asia and Europe.  So why do U.S. stocks continue to skyrocket?  Will U.S. financial markets be able to continue to be divorced from reality?  Unfortunately, as we have seen so many times in the past, when stocks do catch up with reality they tend to do so very rapidly.  So you better put on your seatbelts because a crash is coming at some point.

But most average Americans are not that concerned with the performance of the stock market.  They just want to be able to go to work, pay the bills and provide for their families.  During the last recession, millions of Americans lost their jobs and millions of Americans lost their homes.  If we have another major recession, that will happen again.  Sadly, it appears that another major recession is quickly approaching.
The following are 12 recession indicators that are flashing red...
#1 The price of copper has traditionally been one of the very best indicators of the future performance of the U.S. economy.  The fact that it is down nearly 20 percent so far this year has many analystsextremely concerned...
Copper's downward trend foreshadows a stock market collapse, according to Societe Generale's famously bearish strategist Albert Edwards, who said equity markets will riot "Japan-style."
"Copper is acting exactly as it did when I wrote about the impotence of liquidity in the face of the (then imminent) 2007 recession. Once again it is giving us an early warning that liquidity will not save risk assets: time to get out of equities," Edwards wrote in his latest research note, on Thursday.
#2 Home renovation spending has fallen back to depressingly-low 2010 levels.
#3 As Zero Hedge recently pointed out, U.S. retail spending is repeating a pattern that we have not seen since the last recession...
Retail sales of clothing is growing at the slowest pace since 2010; but while major store sales are about to drop negative YoY for the first time in over 3 years, the utter collapse in general merchandise sales is worse that at the peak of the last recession at -5%. It seems tough to see how a nation with an economy built on 70% consumption is not in a recessionary environment. And while this alone is a dismal signal for the discretionary upside of the US economy/consumer; as Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg points out real personal income net of transfer receipts plunged at a stunning 5.8% annual rate in Q1. The other seven times we have seen such a collapse, the economy was either in recession of just coming out of one.
#4 Manufacturing activity all over the country is showing signs of slowing down.  In fact, Chicago PMI has dipped below 50 (indicating contraction) for the first time since the last recession.
#5 In April, consumer confidence unexpectedly fell to a nine-month low...
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment declined to 72.3 in April from 78.6 a month earlier. This month’s reading was lower than all 69 estimates in a Bloomberg survey that called for no change from the March number.
#6 NYSE margin debt peaked right before the recession that began in 2002, it peaked right before the financial crisis of 2008, and it ispeaking again.
#7 The S&P 500 usually mirrors the performance of Chinese stocks very closely.  That is why it is so alarming that Chinese stocks peakedmonths ago.  Will the S&P 500 soon follow?
#8 The economic data coming out of the Chinese economy lately has been mostly terrible...
For starters, China’s recent economic data, as massaged as it is to the upside, is downright awful. China’s PMI numbers were the worst in two years. Staffing levels in the Chinese service sector decreasedfor the first time since January 2009 (remember that year).
China’s LEI also shows no sign of recovery. If anything, it indicates China is heading towards an economic slowdown on par with that of 2008. And if you account for the rampant debt fueling China’s economy you could easily argue that China is posting 0% GDP growth today.
#9 Things just continue to get even worse over in Europe.  Unemployment in both Greece and Spain is now about 27 percent, and the unemployment rate in the eurozone as a whole has just set a brand new all-time record high.
#10 Crude inventories have soared to a record high as demand for energy continues to decline.  As I have written about previously, this is a clear sign that economic activity is slowing down.
#11 Casino spending is usually a strong indicator of the overall health of the U.S. economy.  That is why it is so noteworthy that casino spending is now back to levels that we have not seen since the last recession.
#12 The impact of the sequester cuts is starting to kick in.  According to the Congressional Budget Office, the sequester cuts will cost the U.S. economy about 750,000 jobs this year.
Do you have any other recession indicators that you would add to this list?
I invite you to share your thoughts by posting a comment below...
The Economic Collapse

Belgium Erasing Christianity for Islam

Under the guise of letting go of the Christian holidays, this text provides Muslims with a waiver to add Islamic holidays…. Six Belgian senators introduced a draft resolution in the Belgian Parliament that would make "Islamophobia" a crime punishable by fines and imprisonment. A person would be guilty if he "considers Islam to be violent, threatening or supportive of terrorism…" or "considers Islam to be a political ideology, used for political and military purposes to establish it hegemony." If passed, the law would pose a devastating blow to the exercise of free speech in Belgium.

Wallonia, the French-speaking southern region of Belgium, has officially renamed the four major Christian holidays on the Belgian school calendar with secular names.

Critics of the move say it reflects an ongoing effort by politicians in Belgium to remove Christianity from public life to accommodate a burgeoning Muslim population.

The French Community of Belgium -- which has its own institutions, parliament and government, and has jurisdiction over the five provinces of Wallonia and over the Francophone population of Brussels in the areas of education and culture -- adopted a framework decree that formally establishes the new secularized names in the interests of "administrative simplification."

As reported by the center-right newspaper La Libre on March 26, school calendars within Belgium's French speaking community will permanently use the following terminology: the Christian holiday previously known as All Saints Day (Congés de Toussaint) will now be referred to as Autumn Leave (Congé d'automne); Christmas Vacation (Vacances de Noël) is now Winter Vacation (Vacances d'hiver); Lenten Vacation (Congés de Carnaval) is now Rest and Relaxation Leave (Congé de détente); and Easter (Vacances de Pâques) is now Spring Vacation (Vacances de Printemps).

Although these secularized appellations have been used intermittently over the past several years, the new decree formalizes their use on a permanent basis.

The move to "de-Christianize" the Christian holidays has been roundly criticized by those opposed to the relentless spread of multiculturalism in Belgium.

Some of the most vocal opposition has come from the Reformist Movement (Mouvement Réformateur, MR), an alliance of four center-right parties that together comprise the largest classical liberal political formation in French-speaking Belgium.

MR leader Françoise Bertieaux accused the Wallonian Minister of Education, Marie-Dominique Simonet, of pandering to Muslims at the expense of Christians. "Minister Simonet wants to push religion [Christianity] out the door, but the new decree actually opens the way for reintroducing religion [Islam] through the window. Under the guise of letting go of [Christian] religion and tradition, this text opens the way to new vacation days for other religions [Islam]. MR firmly regrets this new formula," Bertieaux said.

According to Bertieaux, Article 9, Paragraph 3 of the new decree provides Muslims with a waiver that would allow them to add Islamic religious holidays to the official school calendar.

The dust-up in Wallonia comes just months after city officials in Brussels removed the traditional Christmas tree in city's Gothic central square and replaced it with a politically correct structure of abstract minimalist art.

Critics accused the Socialist mayor of Brussels, Freddy Thielemans, of declaring war on Christmas by installing the "multicultural" structure of lights to avoid offending the city's growing Muslim population.

Historically, a 20 meter (65 foot) fir tree taken from the forests of the Ardennes has adorned the city's main square, the Grand-Place. In 2012, however, it was replaced with a 25 meter (82 foot) new-age-like structure of lighted boxes. In addition, the traditional Christmas Market in downtown Brussels was renamed as "Winter Pleasures 2012."

The mayor's office, where more than half of the city's eleven councilors are either Muslim or Socialist or both, said the non-tree -- which cost the taxpayers of Brussels a total of €44,000 ($57,000), compared to €5,000 for the traditional tree -- was part of a theme celebrating "light."

City Councilor Philippe Close said the aim was to show off the "avant-garde character" of Brussels by blending the modern and the traditional to produce something new and different.

But Bianca Debaets, a Brussels councilor from the Christian Democratic and Flemish party, told the Flemish newspaper Brussel Nieuws that she believed an argument over Muslim religious sensitivities had prompted the Brussels City Council to put up the light sculpture.

"I suspect that the reference to the Christian religion was the decisive factor in replacing the tree," Debaets said. "For a lot of people who are not Christians, the tree there is offensive to them. What will be next? Will all Easter eggs be banned in Brussels because they refer to Easter?"

In an interview with the BBC News, Erik Maxwell, a resident of Brussels, said: "We think the tree has been put up for cultural reasons. A tree is for Christmas and Christians but now there are a lot of Muslims here in Brussels. So to avoid discussions they have just replaced a tree with a couple of cubes!"

After all the efforts to make Belgium more Islam-friendly, however, many Muslims say they still feel alienated from Belgian society.

According to a new survey of Muslim youth in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern half of Belgium, only 30% of Muslim males between the ages of 15 and 25 feel as though they are accepted by Flemish society. This figure drops to 25% for Muslim females in the same age group.

The survey, which was published by the daily newspaper Gazet van Antwerpen on April 19, shows that 60% of Muslim youth believe that they will never be integrated into Belgian society. One in three of those surveyed say that he or she has been discriminated against at school, and one in five say they have been discriminated against at work. More than 50% say they have been victims of racism. Although 93% of those surveyed have Belgian citizenship, 42% of them say they consider themselves to be foreigners.

The results are virtually unchanged from a similar survey conducted in 2005, and imply that years of government efforts to make Belgium more multicultural have done nothing to change the minds of Muslim youth.

According to the Flemish Minister for Integration, Geert Bourgeois, Muslim youth should work harder and complain less. "That so many young people feel discriminated against and do not feel accepted means that our society still has a lot of work to do. It's actually an 'us-them' story. We as a society can and should still make an extra effort, but conversely, Muslim youth should do more as well. Perhaps an inverted research shows that we just think that young Muslims do not belong because they do not want to belong," Bourgeois said.

If Belgian multiculturalists have their way, however, asking Muslims to do more to integrate into Belgian society may soon become a criminal offense.

In February, six Belgian senators (three of whom are Muslim) introduced a draft resolution in the Belgian Federal Parliament that would make "Islamophobia" a crime punishable by fines and imprisonment.

The draft text -- which, among other objectives, seeks to equate "Islamophobia" with anti-Semitism -- is audacious in scope and if passed would pose a devastating blow to the exercise of free speech in Belgium.

According to the authors of the resolution, a person would be guilty of Islamophobia if he or she:
Considers Islam to be a single monolithic bloc, closed and static, incapable of adapting to new situations;
Considers Islam to be separate and "different," devoid of having any aims or shared values ​​with other cultures, not influenced by other cultures and not influencing other cultures;
Considers Islam to be inferior to the West, to be barbaric, irrational, primitive and sexist;
Considers Islam to be violent, threatening and supportive of terrorism, actively engaged in a 'clash of civilizations';
Considers Islam to be a political ideology, used for political and military purposes to establish its hegemony;
Rejects out of hand criticisms made by Islam of 'the West';
Shows hostility towards Islam to justify discrimination and social exclusion of Muslims;
Accepts hostility toward Muslims as natural and normal.

This definition of Islamophobia, which is based on a 1997 report published by the London-based Runnymede Trust, would effectively outlaw any critical discussion of Islam in Belgium under the guise of combatting racism.

The draft resolution has outraged free speech activists, who are demanding more public scrutiny of what they say is a "draconian" measure that is contrary to liberal democratic values. But the sponsors of the text remain unapologetic.

In an interview with the daily newspaper Le Soir, Senator Richard Miller from Wallonia accuses critics of the resolution of trying to make the draft text say things it does not say.

Miller, a member of the same Mouvement Réformateur that has accused other Belgian politicians of pandering to Muslims, claims his measure is not meant to prohibit the criticism of Islam, but only to "fight against those who often use a variety of arguments, with the result of creating unease in the Muslim population."