Signs of the Times (7/8/20)

July 8, 2020

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

Supreme Court Supports Religious Freedom in Hiring

The Supreme Court on Wednesday threw out two job bias lawsuits brought by teachers against their religious employers, reaffirming that religious institutions and schools have a First Amendment right to select their employees. The ruling is a win for conservatives arguing in favor of religious freedom. Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the First Amendment protects the right of religious institutions “to decide for themselves, free from state interference, matters of church government as well as those of faith and doctrine.” He added that while religious institutions do not enjoy “a general immunity from secular laws” their autonomy is protected with “respect to internal management decisions.”

Supreme Court Rules Employers Can Opt Out of Birth Control Mandate

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that employers with religious or moral objections do not have to help provide insurance coverage for contraceptives under the Affordable Care Act. The ruling seeks to end a longstanding battle by the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious groups that wanted no role in providing birth control coverage. It upholds a Trump administration policy allowing for both religious and moral exemptions. The decision was written by Associate Justice Clarence Thomas and joined by the court’s other conservatives. Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.

SCOTUS Rules Unanimously that States Can Bind Presidential Electors’ Votes

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday that states can require presidential electors to back their states’ popular vote winner in the Electoral College. The ruling, just under four months before the 2020 election, leaves in place laws in 32 states and the District of Columbia that bind electors to vote for the popular-vote winner, which electors almost always do. The court ruled that states are free to remove and punish electors who break with their pledges. So-called faithless electors have not been critical to the outcome of a presidential election, but that could change in a race decided by just a few electoral votes.

President Trump Pulls U.S. Out of World Health Organization

President Trump has officially ended America’s relationship with the World Health Organization (WHO). “WHO has been accused of lying to the world about the coronavirus and it has come under fire for saying killing babies in abortions is somehow an essential procedure as the world deals with the coronavirus pandemic,” notes LifeSite News. The decision will end a $450 million annual contribution from the United States to the pro-abortion agency. “Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent, global public health needs,” Trump said.

President Trump Orders Creation of National Garden of Heroes

President Donald Trump announced during a speech in front of Mount Rushmore on Friday an executive order to establish a “National Garden of American Heroes” featuring statues of “historically significant Americans.” The order stipulates that the Garden should include “historically significant Americans,” who “contributed positively to America throughout our history,” The executive order includes a list of former American presidents and historical figures to feature – with Ronald Reagan, Abraham Lincoln, Amelia Earhart, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglas, Martin Luther King and Billy Graham among them. Trump’s effort to build more statues comes as protesters across the U.S. have torn down statues in protest of police violence against black people.

  • Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece Dr. Alveda King said that she loves President Trump’s idea of creating a National Garden of American Heroes that would pay tribute to historically significant Americans, including her uncle.

University of California Names First Black President

Dr. Michael V. Drake has been chosen as president of the University of California, the first Black leader in the 280,000-student system’s 152-year history. The UC Board of Regents unanimously approved Drake’s appointment. Drake will succeed Janet Napolitano, who announced last fall that she planned to step down this August. Napolitano, who was the UC system’s first female president, said in the announcement that she has “full confidence” in Drake.

Violence and Lawlessness Abound, Just Like End-Time Prophecies Foretell

Over the past week, especially the July 4th weekend, shootings abounded across the U.S., mostly in major metropolitan areas. Over the last six weeks, there have been 600 murders in just six U.S. cities, including NYC, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington D.C., Baltimore, and Philadelphia.

  • Jesus said about the end-times, “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.” (Matthew 24;12). The apostle Paul prophesied, “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.” (2Thessalonians 2:7). God’s hand of restraint is now being pulled back as He allows transgression to reach its fullness which precedes the anti-Christ coming to the fore, just as Daniel prophesied in 8:23: “And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their fullness, a king shall arise, having fierce features, who understands sinister schemes.”
  • More than a dozen people were shot in Atlanta, four fatally, in less than 24 hours over the holiday weekend. Among the most devastating of those shootings: 8-year-old Secoriea Turner, who was gunned down and killed near the Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was killed last month by former police officer Garrett Rolfe. The girl was shot by “a group of armed individuals” after a car that tried to turn into a parking lot blocked by illegally placed barriers on Pryor Road, In an impassioned press conference Sunday night, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued a full-throated call for citizens to stop “shooting each other up on our streets.”
  • Over the Fourth of July weekend, 79 people were shot in Chicago and 15 people were killed. Eleven of the weekend’s victims were minors including two children, one a 7-year-old girl. “People are afraid to leave the house,” said Pastor Corey Brooks, founder of the New Beginnings Church in Chicago.
  • In New York City, 42 people were shot with 9 of them killed. Mayor Bill de Blasio blamed the uptick in violence over the weekend on the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, de Blasio and police Chief Terence Monahan were asked if police officers were pulling back due to the New York City Council’s decision to defund the NYPD by $1 billion last week. “The animosity toward police out there is tremendous,” Monahan said. “Just about everyone we deal with is looking to fight a police officer when we make an arrest.”

Statues Continue to be Torn Down

Baltimore protesters pulled down a statue of Christopher Columbus and threw it into the city’s Inner Harbor on Saturday night. Demonstrators used ropes to topple the monument near the Little Italy neighborhood. Protesters called for the removal of statues of Columbus because the Italian explorer was responsible for the genocide and exploitation of native peoples in the Americas.

Statue of Abolitionist Frederick Douglas Torn Down

A statue of abolitionist Frederick Douglass was ripped from its base in Rochester, NY, on the anniversary of one of his most famous speeches, delivered in that city in 1852. Police said the statue of Douglass was taken on Sunday from Maplewood Park, a site along the Underground Railroad where Douglas and Harriet Tubman helped shuttle slaves to freedom. In Rochester on July 5, 1852, Douglass gave the speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July,” in which he called the celebration of liberty a sham in a nation that enslaves and oppresses its black citizens. The statue was found nearby, but was too damaged to repair, so it will be replaced. Retaliation was considered to be the motivation, against those tearing down statues of slavery supporters.

President Trump Threatens to Cut Off Funding if Schools Don’t Open

President Trump put the nation’s schools on notice Wednesday that he may cut off their funding if they don’t reopen their classrooms this fall. “In Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and many other countries, SCHOOLS ARE OPEN WITH NO PROBLEMS,” he wrote. “The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election, but is important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open!” On Monday, President Trump tweeted, “SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!” President Trump on Wednesday said he disagreed with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on their “very tough & expensive” guidelines for opening schools in the fall, which he called “impractical.”

  • Congress holds the power of the purse, and while Trump and his administration have previously proposed cutting federal grants for schools as well as the Education Department’s budget, Congress has continued to reject these proposals. Congress also has oversight power when it comes to federal grants.

School Reopenings Still a Quandary

As Florida’s coronavirus cases surge, the education commissioner there issued an emergency order Monday that mandated all public K-12 schools open in August. The order requires that all brick-and-mortar schools open for at least five days a week for each student. That rules out schools planning to set up a system where students work at home half the time and come to school the other half. “There is a need to open schools fully to ensure the quality and continuity of the educational process, the comprehensive well-being of students and families, and a return to Florida hitting its full economic stride,” the order says.

  • Most New York City students will return to their physical schools two or three days a week and learn online the rest of the time under a plan announced Wednesday by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

International Students to Be Forced Out if Schools Online Only

International students will be forced to leave the U.S. or transfer to another college if their schools offer classes entirely online this fall, under new guidelines issued Monday by federal immigration authorities. The guidelines, issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, provide additional pressure for universities to reopen even amid growing concerns about the recent spread of COVID-19 among young adults. Colleges received the guidance the same day that some institutions, including Harvard University, announced that all instruction will be offered remotely. President Trump has insisted that schools and colleges return to in-person instruction as soon as possible.

  • Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sued the Trump administration on Wednesday, hoping to undo the rule that would block some foreign students from being admitted to the U.S.

New Record Set Tuesday in Number of Coronavirus Cases

Tuesday saw a record 60,021 new coronavirus cases as the nationwide surge showed no signs of ebbing. The number of new daily cases has risen exponentially since the middle of last month. In Florida at least 56 hospital intensive care units have reached capacity. In California, hospitalizations are up 50% from two weeks ago. In Arizona,  more than 90% of its ICU beds were filled, and the percentage was growing. In Savannah, Georgia, hospitalizations have nearly quadrupled in a month. Hospitalizations have risen more slowly than total new cases because of more young people getting tested even when they have no symptoms or just mild symptoms. However, even though the proportion of cases requiring hospitalization is going down, the total number continues to rise and may exceed capacity soon.

122,000 More Deaths in U.S. than Normal

The coronavirus pandemic in the US claimed at least 122,000 more lives than would be expected in a normal year, for a rise of 18%, says a study released Wednesday. The excess death rate was particularly high in virus hot spots such as New York City, which buried three times more people than usual and up to seven times as many during the peak of the pandemic, according to a week by week study carried out at Yale University and published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. Throughout the first phase of the pandemic in the U.S. the official COVID-19 death toll was widely underestimated, the statistics in this study show. This is because many people who died were not tested for the virus, or because the way death certificates are filled out is not standardized in the U.S. So 22% of the above-normal deaths had no official link to the coronavirus.

Overall Covid-19 Death Rate Continues to Fall

The number of Americans dying from COVID-19 has been falling for weeks and is well below that of France, the United Kingdom and Germany, said White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany. “At the height of this pandemic we were at 2,500 deaths per day. We are now at a place where on July 4 there were 254. That’s a tenfold decrease in mortality.” She also noted that the number of deaths from COVID-19 on Sunday was 209, down 23% from the previous week. Experts caution that deaths lag confirmed cases by up to 2 weeks, so the recent surge in cases may cause an increase in deaths as time goes on.

Arizona has Nation’s Highest Positive Test Rate for COVID-19

One in four COVID-19 tests in Arizona is coming back positive, the highest percentage in the country, according to Johns Hopkins University, and an indicator that there isn’t enough testing to keep up with the new coronavirus’ spread in the state. A high percentage of positive tests means that testing is limited and may only be reaching those who are the most sick. “We are watching the percent positivity,” Dr. Cara Christ, Arizona’s health director, said. “What that indicates is that there’s increasing community spread.”

  • Arizona continues to reach record high numbers for COVID-19 hospitalizations and emergency room visits as the state reported an additional 3,520 COVID-19 cases and 36 known deaths on Wednesday. A record 2,008 suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients visited emergency rooms on Tuesday, passing the previous high of 1,847 visits on Thursday. Hospitalizations in inpatient and ICU beds, ventilators in use and emergency department visits by COVID-19 patients also rose on Tuesday to their highest reported levels since hospital data reporting began in early April.

21 States Mandate Wearing Face Masks in Public

As coronavirus cases are rising in at least 40 states, 21 governors have instituted or renewed orders requiring people to wear face coverings in public. Most of the orders require people to wear masks in both indoor and outdoor public spaces where social distancing isn’t possible, but some apply to only specific places or age groups. None of the orders applies to children younger than 2 or people with a medical condition or disability that prevents them from wearing a face covering.

Patients in Hospitals for Other Reasons are Contracting Covid-19

U.S. medical centers have reported 5,000-plus cases of patients likely catching the coronavirus once admitted for other conditions, adding to the strain of the pandemic itself, reports the Wall Street Journal. It’s straining an already overwhelmed hospital system. A nurse at a Chicago hospital came home upset that she was having to mingle with other staffers who treated Covid-19 patients. Less than a month later, she died of the disease.

239 Scientists Urge WHO to Admit Coronavirus Airborne Transmission

The World Health Organization still won’t call the coronavirus airborne, even though evidence increasingly shows it is indeed transmissible that way and experts have been warning for months that more attention needs to be paid to transmission via aerosols. Now, 239 scientists from more than 30 countries have published an open letter to the health agency urging it to reconsider its official stance on the matter, which currently states only that the research is inconclusive. The WHO’s official stance is that the virus that causes COVID-19 is transmitted via larger respiratory droplets, which typically can only travel about 6 feet before they fall to the ground. Aerosols, on the other hand, are smaller particles that can travel much longer distances and linger in the air, meaning that if the virus is transmitted that way, crowded indoor spaces, especially those with poor ventilation, are a big risk even when social distancing can be maintained.

Original China Travel Ban Was Full of Holes

The February ban on travelers from mainland China exempted residents of the Chinese territories of Hong Kong and Macau. An analysis of Commerce Department travel entry records and private aviation data show that nearly 8,000 Chinese nationals and foreign residents of the territories entered the U.S. on more than 600 commercial and private flights in the first three months after the ban was imposed. When U.S. residents flying from mainland China arrived at U.S. airports, the system meant to flag and monitor them for the development of symptoms lost track of at least 1,600 people in just the first few days the ban went into effect, an AP analysis shows. None of the agencies involved in crafting and announcing the travel ban would comment publicly about why Hong Kong and Macau were exempted.

Young People Also Requiring Hospitalization with Covid-19

Of the 4,916 Arizonans who as of Friday had been hospitalized for COVID-19-related illness since the beginning of Arizona’s pandemic, 24% have been under the age of 45, the state’s numbers say. “We know that people of all walks of life can get very bad viral and bacterial pneumonias, whether that is from influenza or bacteria in general. We see it every flu season with very healthy, young people. So we weren’t surprised to see that COVID-19 also was not discriminating,” said Phoenix critical care physician Dr. Jennifer O’Hea.

Blacks & Latinos More Likely to Be Infected & Die

According to new federal data that shows the most comprehensive look at coronavirus in the United States, racial disparities are playing out not only in big cities like Milwaukee and New York, but also in smaller communities, resulting in an infection rate that is three times higher for Black and Latino people than it is for white people. The federal data, which was released after The New York Times sued the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, showed that Black and Latino people are also twice as likely to die from COVID-19. Part of the reason for the higher numbers is that many Black and Latino people have jobs that do not allow for working from home, according to health experts, and many live packed together in smaller homes.

Courts Shutdown Three Pipelines

A federal judge ordered the shutdown of the Dakota Access Pipeline and that it be emptied, while a lengthy environmental review is conducted. The pipeline must be emptied by August 5, the court ordered Monday, after finding that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated “the National Environmental Policy Act when it granted an easement” for the pipeline’s construction and operation of crude-oil running beneath Lake Oahe. The environmental review for the pipeline, which has been in operation for three years, must be completed within 30 days, according to the judge’s order. The corps was sued by the Cheyenne River Sioux and Standing Rock Sioux.

The U.S. Supreme Court handed another setback to the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline from Canada on Monday by keeping in place a lower court ruling that blocked a key environmental permit for the project. Canadian company TC Energy needs the permit to continue building the long-disputed pipeline across US rivers and streams. Without it, the project that has been heavily promoted by President Trump faces more delay just as work on it had finally begun this year following years of courtroom battles. On Sunday, the $8 billion Atlantic Coast gas pipeline was also ordered to shut down.

Walgreens & CVS Ramping Up In-Store Health Care

Walgreens plans to staff 500 to 700 of its stores with primary care doctors in the next five years in a partnership with medical services provider VillageMD, under the brand Village Medical. Walgreens has nearly 9,300 locations in the U.S. The clinics will be spread out among more than 30 markets, with more than half located in locations that are underserved by medical professionals. The move marks the latest evolution in the drug store sector’s pivot away from retail floor space toward more healthcare services. Walgreens’ archrival, CVS, has invested in its own in-store clinical services brand called MinuteClinic, which is offered at about 1,100 locations. CVS is also opening up to 1,500 HealthHUB locations that will include MinuteClinic services. Both companies have also opened free COVID-19 testing sites outside some of their stores.

Thousands of Companies Sue Insurance Companies for Covid-19 Issues

Thousands of companies across the country are suing their insurance agencies believing they are entitled to a payout since they faithfully paid insurance premiums and could not have foreseen that the coronavirus pandemic would cause them to shut them down. The problem is their insurance companies don’t agree. Not only do insurers say that no physical damage has been done to property – such as would have occurred after a flood of a hurricane – they point to clauses in practically every contract that explicitly state that losses caused by viruses are not covered.

Renters Face Upcoming Cliff by End of July

People who rent have largely been able to survive the initial months of the pandemic helped by unemployment and federal relief checks. But the extra $600 in unemployment benefits ceases at the end of July and local eviction moratoriums are expiring. Renters already faced a dire situation before the pandemic hit, said Alexander Hermann, a researcher at the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. The center reported in January that vacancy rates for rentals had hit the lowest level in decades, pushing up rent far faster than income. At last count, one in four renters spent more than half their income on housing. Census data shows about 19% of renters were late or deferred their rent payments in May. And about 31% of renters surveyed in June said they have little to no confidence they will be able to pay next month’s rent.

Economic News

“The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted the supply chain and normal circulation patterns for U.S. coin,” the government said in a statement Monday. “In the past few months, coin deposits from depository institutions to the Federal Reserve have declined significantly and the U.S. Mint’s production of coin also decreased due to measures put in place to protect its employees.” Some retailers are posting signs saying they would appreciate exact change due to the coin shortage. The pandemic has also accelerated the demise of paper money because of infection concerns.

Luxury apparel retailer Brooks Brothers – which survived the Civil War, the Great Depression, World War II and the Great Recession – filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Wednesday as it tries to survive the retail industry’s turmoil amid digital transformation and the coronavirus pandemic. Other retailers recently filing for bankruptcy have included J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus, J. Crew and Chuck E. Cheese.

In a memo to employees, United Airlines said 36,000 employees, or 45% of its front-line workers in the USA and more than a third of its overall workforce of 95,000, face layoffs on or around Oct. 1. The most affected groups: flight attendants and airport customer service and gate agents, which account for 26,000 of the 36,000.

Uber is absorbing Postmates in a deal worth $2.65 billion in stock. Postmates will remain a standalone app, Uber said in a press release. However, the merger better positions Uber Eats to compete with DoorDash, which is the most widely used food delivery platform in the U.S.

Israel Fights Second Wave of Coronavirus

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz headed into quarantine on Wednesday morning as corona cases hit a record daily high of 1,320 on Tuesday. Israel finds itself in a difficult situation against the pandemic, which has made a comeback in a second wave after the country had successfully fought it off in the first with tough measures. The government finds itself forced to quickly back-pedal. It has again tightened restrictions on public gatherings. And it has restricted the number of people who can travel in public buses.

Australia Seals Off Entire State from Rest of Nation over Coronavirus

Australia will isolate 6.6 million people in the state of Victoria from the rest of the nation at 11.59 p.m. on Tuesday, as authorities take drastic action to control a coronavirus outbreak in the city of Melbourne. The border between Victoria and New South Wales (NSW) — Australia’s two most-populous states — will be closed for the first time, The surge in cases has forced authorities to reimpose stay-at-home orders on dozens of suburbs and, on Saturday, 3,000 residents of nine densely populated public housing estates were suddenly put under a total lockdown.

Brazil’s President Tests Positive for Covid-19

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro says he has tested positive for COVID-19 after months of downplaying the virus’ severity. Bolsonaro confirmed the test results while wearing a mask and speaking to reporters in capital Brasilia. The president has often appeared in public to shake hands with supporters and mingle with crowds, at times without a mask. He has said that his history as an athlete would protect him from the virus, and that it would be nothing more than a “little flu” were he to contract it. He has also repeatedly said that there is no way to prevent 70% of the population falling ill with COVID-19, and that local authorities’ measures to shut down economic activity would ultimately cause more hardship than allowing the virus to run its course.

Multiple Rockets Fired from Gaza into Israel Sunday

The Israeli military on Sunday said three rockets were fired by Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip toward southern Israel. Israel’s Channel 12 TV said two rockets landed in open areas, causing no damage or injuries.A third projectile was intercepted by Israeli air defenses. Tensions have also been rising as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepares to extend Israeli sovereignty over Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

FBI Director Says China is USA’s Greatest Long-Term Threat

China is the greatest long-term threat to the U.S., according to FBI Director Christopher Wray. In a speech to Washington’s Hudson Institute on Tuesday, he said “the stakes could not be higher” when it comes to China and its acts of espionage, cyberattacks, data and monetary theft, and acts of bribery and blackmail to interfere with and influence U.S. policy. “We’ve now reached a point where the FBI is now opening a new China-related counterintelligence case every 10 hours,” he said. “Of the nearly 5,000 active counterintelligence cases currently underway across the country, almost half are related to China. If you’re an American adult, it is more likely than not that China has stolen your personal data.”

Fireworks Cause Dozens of Wildfires in California

The night sky may have been ablaze with fireworks on the Fourth of July across Northern California, but fire crews were busy on the ground as dozens of fires were reported. The Contra Costa County Fire Protection District said Sunday that between 7 p.m. on midnight on July 4, fire crews responded to 67 fires. Of the 67 blazes reported Saturday night, fire officials said 10 were structure fires, while 27 were vegetation and other exterior fires. Sixteen of the fires were caused by fireworks, according to fire crews. Since all the professional fireworks shows were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, many took it upon themselves to launch their own.

Weather

Motorists were stranded in cars and some vehicles were submerged Monday when torrential rain caused a flash flood emergency for Philadelphia and surrounding communities in southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. Motorists also had to be rescued from flooded cars in Cheltenham where Tacony Creek rose 6 feet in an hour and a half. Additional water rescues were reported in Melrose Park.

Several more rivers overflowed their banks as torrential rain continued Wednesday in parts of Japan, washing away roads and homes and leaving behind piles of debris. The death toll climbed to 58 on Wednesday as the impacts of the unprecedented rainfall reached Japan’s main island of Honshu. At least 14 people were still missing, and 3.6 million people were told to evacuate in recent days as rainfall continued to pummel the region. Flooding and mudslides left residents and tourists stranded in areas around Nagano and Gifu. Tens of thousands of soldiers and other rescue workers continued to dig through mud and debris Wednesday looking for missing people and pulling residents from flooded homes across southwestern Japan

Signs of the Times (7/4/20)

July 4, 2020

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

Declaration of Independence Also Declares Dependence on God

The Declaration of Independence states: “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them… We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness… with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

  • As God is being systematically removed from the social fabric, America is not surprisingly coming apart at the seams.

California Bans Singing in Church

Californians are still free to attend their house of worship, but they’re forbidden from singing or chanting. Updated COVID-19 guidelines issued Wednesday by the state Department of Public Health require churches and other houses of worship to “discontinue singing and chanting activities.” In previously allowing religious organizations to reopen in late May, the state merely said these institutions should “strongly consider discontinuing singing, group recitation, and other practices and performances.”

Christians Face ‘Genocide’ in Nigeria, Africa’s Largest Nation

Muslim factions in Nigeria are carrying out a genocidal “bloodbath” in Africa’s largest nation that is alarming “those of us who track religious freedom violations,” writes Lela Gilbert, a fellow at the Hudson Institute. “We know what happened in Rwanda. We saw what ISIS did in Iraq. And in recent decades, tens of thousands of Nigerians have been slaughtered. Yet their stories rarely appear in mainstream Western news reports, while virtually nothing is being done to stop the violence,” wrote Gilbert, who works with the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom and also the Center for Islam, Democracy and the Future of the Muslim World. Gilbert explained that two Muslim factions largely are responsible for the violence, the terrorist group Boko Haram and the so-called Fulani herdsmen.

Strong Independence Day Message from President Trump

President Donald Trump delivered a firm Independence Day eve vow to protect America and Mount Rushmore from “a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children… “I am here as your President to proclaim before the country and before the world: This monument will never be desecrated, these heroes will never be defaced, their legacy will never, ever be destroyed, their achievements will never be forgotten, and Mount Rushmore will stand forever as an eternal tribute to our forefathers and to our freedom.” President Trump said “cancel culture” mobs are miscalculating Americans as “weak and submissive,” but he said to cheers from over 7,500 onlookers, “Americans are strong and proud.”

  • Critics argue that Trump’s speech ignores past and systemic racism and incites further divisiveness.

150 Charged with Arson, Murder & Destruction of Property

Federal prosecutors have brought charges – including arson and murder – in 150 cases connected to recent protests and rioting. Many of the cases are “related to the destruction of federal property,” D.C. prosecutor Michael Sherwin said. At least 17 people have died as a result of the riots. Sherwin said the Department of Justice has also helped local prosecutors with “hundreds” of cases such as assault and battery and theft. Sherwin said the majority are individuals who self-identify with the fringe organizations. Sherwin said the DOJ is working to identify the “command and control” of the groups and that the “whole architecture” has not been determined.

WHO Admits: China Never Warned About Coronavirus Outbreak

The World Health Organization has finally walked back its claim that it had received a warning about coronavirus from the Chinese government,  giving support to accusations that the organization is China’s puppet. The WHO recently revised its “Timeline of WHO’s response to COVID-19” on Tuesday after Republicans in the House Foreign Affairs Committee released its Interim Report on Origins of COVID-19 Pandemic. It concluded “despite public reporting to the contrary … China never notified the WHO about the outbreak in Wuhan.” According to the report, the WHO learned about the coronavirus outbreak following reports from Chinese media that there was an abnormal pneumonia pandemic and the information made its way online.

Covid-19 Cases Continue to Rise

Heading into the Fourth of July holiday weekend, the U.S. recorded 52,291 new cases of the coronavirus Thursday, surpassing Wednesday’s record of 50,655. It’s the largest single-day total in the U.S. since the pandemic began six months ago, as the infection curve rose in 40 of the 50 states this past week. The U.S. Surgeon General, Jerome Adams, said the death rate has remained flat amid the surge in infections, but “deaths lag at least two weeks and can lag even more” behind the reported Covid-19 infections.

  • Florida’s confirmed coronavirus cases rose by a record 11,458 on Saturday, the state’s health department said, the second time in three days that its caseload increased by more than 10,000. The new record came a day after seven other states also reported record rises in cases of COVID-19. Florida’s record rise in cases was more than any European country’s daily peak at the height of the outbreak there.
  • The number of people in Arizona’s hospitals and in ICU beds again broke records Friday. The number of COVID-19 patients seen in the emergency room skyrocketed to 1,847 on Thursday but was down on Friday to 1,443. The number of ventilators in use by COVID-19 patients decreased from a Thursday record of 489 to 413.
  • About 8,300 more people died of heart problems during the first three months of the pandemic than would have died in a typical spring, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal data from 5 hard-hit states.

Two Texas County Hospitals at Full Capacity, Judges Say Shelter in Place

Hospitals in at least two Texas counties are at full capacity heading into the Fourth of July holiday weekend, with county judges urging residents to shelter in place. Judges in Starr and Hidalgo counties sent out emergency alerts Friday, warning residents that local hospitals in the Rio Grande Valley were at capacity and that residents should shelter-in-place to reduce new cases. Earlier last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday ordered face coverings must be worn in public across most of the state, a dramatic ramp up of the Republican’s efforts to control spiking numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. Violators can be fined up to $250. There are exceptions for people who have a medical condition or disability, who are exercising outdoors, or who are participating in a religious service or voting.

False Positives Inflating Covid-19 Numbers, By at Least 33,000 in Florida

A recent exposé by the Telegraph shows that at least 350,000 tests in the UK had been double or triple counted making the COVID infection rate appear grossly larger than the reality. The same is happening in the U.S. The over-reporting is due in part is caused by the high number of false positives occurring in COVID testing. In Florida, Advent Health, which is the state’s largest hospital conglomerate and operator of walk-in clinics, recently reported 33,000 false COVID tests, reports Liberty Counsel.

  • No test is perfect, so what is the false positive rate for Covid-19 tests? Nary a mention of that in the mainstream media. An online search didn’t turn up anything either. Perhaps it’s not yet known, but it should be – and it should be reported.

Digital Health Certificate Apps Have Arrived

The new “COVI-Pass” app which tracks your vaccination status along with your every move is now in use in 15 countries, including the United States. Certified by the United Nations and marketed as “Health Authenticated,” COVI-Pass tracks and reports everything from your health records, to your employment information, to your banking and your money, reports Liberty Counsel. According to the COVI-Pass website, the app “allows any user to gain information instantaneously on the move in both online and offline environments.” And the app is remotely scannable from up to three meters (nearly nine feet) away.

  • Another step toward the ‘mark of the beast’ as described in Revelation 13:16-7 & 14:9-11

Subpoenas Issued to 8 New Yorkers Who Avoided Contact Tracers

Health officials in one New York County issued subpoenas to eight people after they refused to cooperate in the contact tracing of the coronavirus cluster tied to a party. It worked: All eight partygoers responded to the subpoenas, avoiding possible fines of $2,000 per day from Rockland County, the first known county in the state to resort to legal action amid this public health emergency. The party in mid-June was hosted by someone who was sick with coronavirus at the time, Rockland County Executive Ed Day told USA TODAY on Thursday. The host was symptomatic but held the party anyway, which included 50 to 100 young adults, Day said.

Research/Autopsies Helping to Understand Covid-19

Autopsies have long been a source of breakthroughs in understanding new diseases. Now, autopsies of 38 brains, 87 lungs and 42 hearts of Covid-19 victims have confirmed that the virus does attack the lungs with the most ferocity. Among the most important findings, consistent across several studies, is confirmation that the virus does attack the lungs the most ferociously. Researchers also found the pathogen in parts of the brain, kidneys, liver, gastrointestinal tract and spleen and in the endothelial cells that line blood vessels. There was also widespread clotting in many organs. Given widespread reports about neurological symptoms related to the coronavirus, researchers expected to find virus and/or inflammation in the brain. But there was very little. In addition, many physicians warned for months about a cardiac complication they suspected was myocarditis, an inflammation or hardening of the heart muscle walls, but autopsy investigators were stunned that they could find no evidence of that condition.

  • Breakthrough research may provide a key piece of the COVID-19 puzzle that answers why patients sickened with the disease often suffer from life-threatening blood clots. According to their studies, the virus causes inflammation in the blood platelets, which contributes to clotting in some patients. Scientists from University of Utah Health found that inflammatory proteins produced during infection made the platelets “hyperactive.”

U.S. Buys Up World Stock of Remdesivir

Virtually all the supply of remdesivir for the next three months has been bought up by the U.S. The drug, used to treat COVID-19, is made by Gilead. And according to The Guardian newspaper, the U.S. has now bought more than 500,000 doses, which is all of the company’s production for July and 90% of August and September. The UK newspaper noted that the Trump administration has shown it is prepared to outbid all other nations to secure medical supplies needed in the U.S. The initial 140,000 doses of the drug had been supplied for drug trials around the world, but have since been used up.

Covid-19 Parties in Alabama Awards Prize to First One Infected

Some young people in Alabama are throwing Covid-19 parties, a disturbing competition where people who have coronavirus attend and the first person to get infected receives a payout. The parties are being held in Tuscaloosa, and infected people are urged to attend so others can intentionally contract the virus. The first person confirmed by a doctor to have coronavirus after the exposure wins the money made off the sale of tickets to attend the party.

Seattle Police Clear Out the CHOP Zone

Police in Seattle converged on the city’s protest zone early Wednesday, making arrests and sweeping through streets that demonstrators had occupied for weeks to protest police brutality and systemic racism. Mayor Jenny Durkan issued an executive order for protesters to vacate the area, and police said they were in the area Wednesday to enforce the order. The decision to clear the area, known as the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest or CHOP, comes after a string of violence in the area. At least two fatal shootings occurred in the CHOP in recent weeks, and police say other shootings, robberies and violence have occurred since protesters first took over the area after police abandoned their East Precinct nearby.

Memphis Police Clear Downtown Plaza

Memphis police showed up at Civic Center Plaza outside City Hall Wednesday morning around 6 a.m. local time to remove protesters who had been camped out for the past two weeks. The city said the move was necessary to allow for renovation of the building’s roof and exterior, and after a standoff, about nine demonstrators were led away in handcuffs. The demonstrators appeared not to resist the police officers as they were placed one-by-one into police vehicles, and the police appeared not to use hand strikes, tear gas, pepper spray, batons or similar use of force.

Seattle Driver Plows Through Protest Crowd

A vehicle plowed through a protest-related closure on a Seattle freeway Friday, striking multiple protesters, including two women who suffered serious injuries. State troopers and officers from the Bellingham Police Department chased the vehicle as it fled, and nabbed the suspect. The unidentified suspect — a 27-year-old man from Seattle — was booked in the Whatcom County Jail. Police said he is the same person who eluded officers in another incident two weeks ago.

Morale Among Police Officers is Plummeting

Police officers are feeling “abandoned”, “betrayed” and their stress levels are “going through the roof” as protests and calls to defund departments persist across the U.S., say organizations that advocate for cops’ safety and well-being. The turbulent daily climate – sparked by a series of police-involved deaths in recent months – comes as cops on duty are also trying to protect themselves from the coronavirus, which is the leading cause of death amongst law enforcement this year, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page. “We are seeing the stress levels of law enforcement going through the roof,” said Randy Sutton, a former Las Vegas police lieutenant who now leads The Wounded Blue, an organization that helps injured and disabled officers. “There has never been an atmosphere of hate, distrust, having their own political leadership turn against them, the calls for defunding, the calls for dismantling — they are feeling more under siege now than I think any time in history.”

RV Rentals Rise as Americans Seek Isolated Vacations

Summer vacations look very different this year as many Americans avoid flying, taking cruises and staying at hotels. And while many people are canceling travel plans entirely, others battling cabin fever are renting RVs in unprecedented numbers. The peer-to-peer vehicle rental company RVshare says that RV bookings have increased by more than 1,600% since early April. People feel safer taking an RV because they can control their environment, unlike air travel, cruises and hotels, experts say.

Massachusetts Town Officially Recognized Polyamorous Domestic Partnerships

A Massachusetts city northwest of Boston is believed to be the first in the nation to adopt an ordinance recognizing polyamory. Somerville adopted a domestic partnership policy including polyamorous couples after a unanimous vote of the city council last week, reported the Somerville Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network. Polyamory is the practice of having multiple intimate relationships with the full knowledge and consent of everyone involved, according to Psychology Today. The city’s law defines a domestic partnership as an “entity formed by people” instead of an “entity formed by two persons.” It also replaces “he and she” with “they,” and replaces “both” with “all.”

Economic News

The U.S. economy added a record 4.8 million jobs in June as states continued to allow businesses shuttered by the coronavirus to reopen and more Americans went back to work, even as massive layoffs have persisted. The unemployment rate fell to 11.1% from 13.3% in May, the Labor Department said Thursday. About 60% of unemployed workers were on temporary layoff, down from 73% in May. At the same time, 2.9 million people had permanently lost jobs in June, up from 2.3 million the prior month, in a sign more employers are cutting ties with workers. After two months of rampant growth, the American economy is still down nearly 14.7 million jobs since February.

About 1.43 million workers filed first-time claims for unemployment insurance last week, the Labor Department said Thursday. That’s down slightly from 1.48 million in the prior week. That latest round of applications means more than 48 million Americans have made initial jobless benefits claims in just 15 weeks. Initial jobless claims are the nation’s most reliable gauge of layoffs.

Twice as many workers have had to take pay cuts during the pandemic as in the Great Recession. The cuts are growing rapidly in white-collar industries, payroll processor ADP reports, which suggests this recession will be deep and the economic turnaround slow. In minutes released this afternoon from a June meeting, Federal Reserve officials raised concerns that the nation could enter a much worse recession later this year if coronavirus cases continued to spike.

President Trump on Saturday signed an extension of the small business loan Paycheck Protection Program into law. The program – a major lifeline for many businesses – expired last Tuesday. just as coronavirus cases are spiking in dozens of states. House lawmakers unanimously passed the extension less than a day after the program expired, and PPP will now remain open to applications through August 8. Congress created the program in March to help small businesses keep employees on their payrolls through nationwide closures amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Federal student loan rates are hitting historic lows. For the 2020-2021 academic year, the interest rate on federal student loans for undergraduates has dropped to 2.75%, down from 4.53% last year. The previous record low was in 2004-05 when interest rates were as low as 2.875%. Graduate students are looking at rates of 4.3%, down from the old rate of 6.08%. Graduate students are looking at rates of 4.3%, down from the old rate of 6.08%.

NPC International, the operator of 1,200 Pizza Hut and nearly 400 Wendy’s restaurants in the United States, has filed for bankruptcy. NPC’s restaurants will continue to operate while it navigates the Chapter 11 process. The company employs nearly 40,000 people in 27 U.S. states.

McDonald’s is hitting the brakes on its U.S. reopening plans as the coronavirus surges across the country. The mega-chain issued a statement Wednesday saying restaurants will be told to postpone dine-in service for the next three weeks. Takeout, delivery, and drive-thru service, however, can remain. This comes after partial dine-in service was allowed starting in May, with about 2,200 of America’s 14,000 locations letting customers eat inside at limited capacity.

Netflix is shifting $100 million in cash to financial institutions that serve the Black community in a move that draws attention to the racial wealth gap in America. The company sits on $5.1 billion in cash, so they are moving 2% of that to Black-led banks.

Beginning in August, Walmart is converting 160 of its U.S. store parking lots into drive-in movie theaters. As the pandemic continues, drive-in theaters have been making a comeback as a safe alternative to the traditional movie theaters that remain closed in much of the country.

Curbside pickup has exploded in popularity over the past few months and retailers and mall operators are rushing to catch up. But while big-box retailers like Walmart, Target and Kroger operate free-standing stores and have the space to quickly ramp up the service, it’s not so easy for America’s malls. The stores that are typically inside the mall do not have an entrance out into the parking lot.

Israel Blamed for Explosion at Iranian Nuclear Site

A fire and an explosion early Thursday morning that struck a building above Iran’s underground Natanz uranium enrichment facility was caused by an Israeli cyberattack, according to the Kuwaiti al-Jarida newspaper. U.S.-based analysts have identified the site as a new centrifuge production plant. The blast, the Kuwaiti paper said, made a “crack” in the reactor building, where it is widely believed the Islamic Republic is enriching uranium for use in nuclear weapons. The explosion occurred less than a week after a massive explosion rocked the Parchin military site in Iran’s capital city Tehran.

Democrats Divided Over Aid to Israel

A letter signed by a group of far-left U.S. lawmakers calling for a cut of American military aid to Israel in response to any annexation of parts of Judea and Samaria has been met with criticism from pro-Israel groups, including those affiliated with the Democratic Party. The letter was spearheaded by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and was signed by, among others, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Rep. Ilhan Omar and Senator Bernie Sanders. The Democratic Majority for Israel (DMI) said it “opposes annexation, but we’re urging House Democrats not to sign Rep. AOC’s letter.”

Security Deteriorating in West Africa

Recent attacks by Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM) and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara—local affiliates of al-Qaeda and ISIS—against one another is punctuating a security breakdown in West Africa, a region already challenged by ongoing violence. Extremists had held a loose alliance to fight Western-backed governments across the Sahel, but that has broken in recent months under the weight of the French-led and American-backed military campaign to eliminate the terror threat.

New Hong Kong Anti-Protest Law Enforced

Hong Kong police made their first arrests under a new national security law imposed by China’s central government, detaining at least two protesters Wednesday for carrying flags and signs calling for Hong Kong’s independence. The arrests come less than 24 hours after the national security law was imposed by China after last year’s anti-government protests in the semi-autonomous territory. The law took effect on Tuesday at 11pm.

Weather

A severe thunderstorm that blasted through west Texas on Tuesday was so powerful that it caused dozens of freight train cars to derail. The storm generated straight-line winds over 80 mph that derailed the train and snapped multiple powerline poles in Midland.

Cars were inundated with water and at least one person had to be rescued from a home as a flash flood emergency was declared for parts of Mississippi Wednesday morning, including Pontotoc, Aberdeen and Okolona. As much as 10 inches of rain fell in some areas. Flooding was also reported in McNairy County, Tennessee, where the county 911 center had to be evacuated.

A landslide unleashed by heavy rains killed at least 162 people Thursday at a jade mine in Myanmar. 100 people were still missing and 30 have been hospitalized. The landslide happened in the Hpakant township in Kachin state on Myanmar’s northern border with China. The poverty-stricken area has lucrative deposits of jade and rubies. The people killed Thursday were freelancers scavenging for jade stones in waste left by a larger mining company.

More than a dozen people are presumed dead and several are missing after heavy rain and flooding slammed southern Japan Saturday, covering homes with water and leaving residents stranded on their rooftops awaiting rescue. More than 75,000 residents in Kumamoto and Kagoshima prefectures on Japan’s southwestern island of Kyushu were told to evacuate. More than 4 inches of rain per hour fell on parts of Kumamoto Prefecture. Some areas received up to 20 inches of rain in the past 72 hours.

One Nation Under God

July 4, 2020

The Declaration of Independence declares our dependence on God: “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them… We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness… with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

  • As God is being systematically removed from the social fabric, America is not surprisingly coming apart at the seams.

Finding Joy in the Midst of Darkness

July 1, 2020

Podcast

Written Version

We are in the period that Isaiah prophesied would be a time of “deep darkness.” But that verse was written in the midst of other verses that proclaim, “Arise, shine, or your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” (Isaiah 60:1-3, NKJV)

But for our light to shine brightly with the Lord’s glory upon us, we cannot allow ourselves to sink into the darkness. Even though the coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate the world, even though racial discord is fracturing the social fabric, even though government is using the excuse of the virus to lay the foundation of the secular humanist one-world government to come, even though evil anti-Christ spirits of oppression are attacking all Christians, we can still live within the bubble of the Lord’s glory in the midst of all the darkness.

Never forget that the Lord inhabits our praises, as Psalm 22:3 tells us. This principle is known to many Christians, but most often they don’t fully appreciate the context. Jesus quoted the first verse of this psalm while dying on the cross for our sins: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?” (22:1, KJV)

Jesus was in the greatest darkness of all, separated from Father God while bearing all the sins of the world. Like many of us in the present day darkness, the Psalmist King David cries out in the second verse, “O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.” Just as many are now crying out in the darkness for the Lord to come, but He seems silent, leaving us feeling even more alone within the oppression.

But then David recalls how to rise out of and above the darkness to the light and glory of the Lord God Almighty: “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.” (22:3) Nothing connects us more to God and to His glory than offering Him praise and honor. That’s why David also wrote that, “In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11) We can’t just talk at God, we have to go to God in order to bask in His joy and glory.

Psalm 100, verse 4 further tells us to, “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” All too often, we cry out about our desperate needs and then wonder why we don’t hear or sense that God is listening. Even in the midst of the darkness, everyone has something past and/or present that we can thank Him for – and that’s the way to open up the communications channel to Him.

It’s not that He doesn’t want to answer our cries for help, but rather that He wants to teach us that we need to keep our eyes and our minds focused on the things above, not the darkness of the world. Colossians 3:2-3, tells us to, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

Furthermore, Philippians 4:8 tells us, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

The Lord wants us to develop these habits of praise and focus so that we don’t cling to the darkness, but instead rise above it to where He is, to where the joy is. Many Christians know that the ‘joy of the Lord is your strength,’, (Nehemiah 8:10b), but they think that they somehow have to manufacture this joy themselves. But God’s Word clearly says that this joy is “of the Lord,” that is, it comes from Him.

There’s nothing we can do to earn it or fabricate it on our own. We can only receive it from the Lord, and in order to do that we must be in communication with Him, and be spiritually in His Presence. And, to do that, we must let go of the oppression, reach toward Heaven in thanksgiving and praise and have the glory of the Lord arise over us as Isaiah prophesied.

Philippians 4:4 says it another way: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” Notice that there are no exceptions to this command. Always means always. And rejoice means to be joyful. Even when there doesn’t seem to be anything praiseworthy or lovely in our lives at the moment, as a Child of God, our eternal salvation and an everlasting life of joy in Heaven awaits every believer! That alone should be enough to shine away the darkness from oppressing us.

We can indeed live within our own joyful bubble of existence no matter what is going on around us, or even within us in our sickly, weak bodies. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,” (2Corinthians 4:17) Eternity is forever, an infinitely longer period of time than our brief sojourn on earth.

As we know, James 1:2-4 tells us to rejoice when trouble comes: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

The Apostle Paul takes it one step further in Romans 5:1-5: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

Notice that Paul says we also can have peace in the midst of the darkness, not just joy and glory. And it is unlikely that many of us have suffered as much as he did, as he recounts in his own words: “From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.” (2Corinthians 11:24-27)

Paul also says he learned how to be content no matter what his circumstances: “For I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound.” (Philippians 4:11-12) Unlike happiness, which is dependent on circumstances, contentment is a lasting condition that provides a foundation for experiencing joy more often and more fully.

Jesus says if we abide in Him, in His love, then our joy will be full: “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:9-11)

All of this – joy, peace, contentment – is available to us at all times if we learn how to habitually seek God’s presence instead of just reacting to the darkness around us. It is focusing on the unseen, rather than the seen, as prescribed in 2Corinthians 4:18: “We do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

Jesus also tells us that our eye, that is what we focus on, determines how we feel: “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.” (Matthew 6:22-23)

Will we look at things through our natural eye and allow this to control our soul? Our mind, emotion and will? If so, we will constantly flood ourselves with the darkness of this world. Or will we look at things through our spiritual eye at the things above, at the eternal joy that awaits us? If so, we will be filled with the light of Christ which will shine away the darkness within and around us and fill us with His joy, His peace, His contentment.

Don’t allow the darkness of today, and the deep darkness to come, to overwhelm and oppress you. No matter how bad things might be for you here in this fallen world, you can have peace, love, joy and contentment any time, anywhere, but only if you choose to abide in Christ and seek God’s face. “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2Corinthians 4:6)

So, walk as children of God, just as Ephesians 5:8 prescribes: “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.”

Signs of the Times (6/30/20)

June 30, 2020

“But those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

Supreme Court Strikes Down Restrictive Louisiana Abortion Law

The Supreme Court on Monday struck down a restrictive Louisiana abortion law that would have closed down clinics statewide. The law was virtually identical to a Texas statute the Supreme Court struck down in 2016. But the court’s membership has grown more conservative since then, and partisans on both sides of the controversial issue saw the case as a test of whether the court is going to stand by its precedents on abortion rights or forge new territory, eventually leading to revoking the historic 1971 Roe v. Wade decision. In this case, the Supremes ruled that a Louisiana law requiring that individuals who perform abortions at clinics have admitting privileges in a nearby hospital is unconstitutional, as it places an undue burden on women seeking abortions.

Chief Justice Robert’s Abortion Ruling So Narrow it May Be Fleeting

The court ruled 5-4 in the case, with Chief Justice John Roberts once again casting a deciding vote by siding with the court’s liberal justices. Roberts was appointed Chief Justice by President Bush in 2005. However, some court experts say that Roberts’ view on this case is so narrow that the celebration of those who support abortion rights might prove to be fleeting: Roberts sided with the majority but did not join their opinion. He wrote his own emphasizing that he voted the way he did because the court struck down a nearly identical law out of Texas in 2016. He explained that he still thinks that Texas case was “wrongly decided,” but that the court can’t just throw that ruling out the window four years later.

Supreme Court Allows Taxpayer Funding of Religious Schools

The Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down a ban on taxpayer funding for religious schools, in a narrow but significant win for the school choice movement. In the 5-4 ruling, authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court essentially backed a Montana tax-credit scholarship program that gave residents up to a $150 credit for donating to private scholarship organizations, helping students pay for their choice of private schools. The state’s revenue department made a rule banning those tax-credit scholarships from going to religious schools before the state’s supreme court later struck down the entire program. “A State need not subsidize private education. But once a State decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious,” Roberts wrote in the court’s opinion.

Supremes Reject Environmental Challenge to Trump’s Border Wall

The Supreme Court refused Monday to hear a case involving environmental challenges to President Trump’s border wall plans, giving him a green light to build without having to comply with the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act and other environmental protections. The case does not resolve ongoing challenges over how Mr. Trump is funding the wall, siphoning Pentagon money, which an appeals court struck down last week. But it does clear challenges that could have limited the speed and location of construction. The justices rejected the case without comment.

Daily and Weekly U.S. Coronavirus Hit New Records Last Week

A rise in coronavirus cases was reported across 36 U.S. states last week. Weeks after many states began reopening after lockdown, at least sixteen states have paused or rolled back their plans to further ease restrictions. Only two states saw average daily cases decline more than 10% over the last seven days: New Jersey and Rhode Island. The U.S. set the record for most new reported cases in a day on Friday, 6/26 with 44,726. As of Monday, the nation’s seven-day average of daily new Covid-19 cases increased more than 30% compared with the prior week, assuming these numbers are accurate (hint: probably not).

Arizona Daily Cases of Coronavirus Set New Records

Arizona cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, increased by more than 3,850 cases on Sunday — the highest number of cases in a single day – until Tuesday, when 4682 were reported. But that was because of a delay in reporting on Monday, which dropped to 625, so the two-day total was 5,307 or an average of 2,653.5 per day, down almost 1,200 from Sunday. However, compared to the peak in May of 591 cases/day, June’s daily peak was 6.6 times higher than May’s peak. In an effort to stop the massive surge in new coronavirus cases, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey ordered bars, nightclubs, gyms, movie theaters and water parks around the state to be closed for at least 30 days starting Monday night.

Health Secretary Azar Says Risky Behavior Behind Covid Spike

Health Secretary Alex Azar on Tuesday blamed risky behavior by individuals and not the reopening of economies for driving the spike in new coronavirus cases across the Sun Belt. Azar said the governors in newly hard-hit Arizona, California and Texas report that people are not following guidelines at bars, nightclubs or outdoor gatherings, and that is behind the spike in COVID-19 cases. He insisted reopenings could continue if people “act responsibly” and take simple precautions: Social distance, wear masks and wash hands.

Increases in Corona Cases Also Reported Worldwide

In China, around 400,000 people in Anxin county near Beijing have been placed under lockdown measures after a small increase in cases in the area. Elsewhere, India has recorded more than 100,000 new Covid-19 infections in the past six days as cases surge across the country. Meanwhile in Australia and in England, officials are racing to contain new outbreaks. Cases also continue to rise in Latin America. In Mexico, the president announced that the nation’s capital, Mexico City, would gradually begin to reopen on Monday, even though another 4,050 new cases were reported Sunday. Mexico has the 7th highest number of Covid-19 deaths in the world, behind Spain. Both Colombia and Peru also reported surging cases. Brazil reported 30,476 new cases in 24 hours on Sunday. The country has recorded more than 1.3 million cases, yet reopening continues in cities including Rio de Janeiro.

European Union Opens Borders to 14 External Countries, But Not U.S.

The European Union has formally agreed a set of recommendations that will allow travelers from outside the bloc to visit EU countries, months after it shut its external borders in response to the outbreak of Covid-19. As had been widely expected, the list of 14 countries does not include the United States, whose current Covid infection rate does not meet the criteria set by the EU for it to be considered a “safe country.” Countries must also have a stable or decreasing trend of new cases over the past 14 days.

Rate of Covid-19 Hospitalizations Comparable to Flu

Although the coronavirus has proven to be far more contagious than the flu, many cases have no symptoms while others are quite mild, especially for those under sixty years of age. However, the rate at which patients require hospitalization is no more than what we usually see with the flu. CDC head, Dr. Robert Redfield, estimates that for every case we know about there are ten more mild or asymptomatic cases that aren’t reported. With so many cases, the hospitalization rate is much lower than the flu although the total numbers seem higher. Even as cases soar, total deaths have been declining. The CDC now estimates the mortality rate for Covid-19 is “no higher than one-half of one percent.”

  • The coronavirus has mutated since it started spreading late last year, and a variant known as “G” is now dominant across the United States and the world. “The mutation doesn’t appear to make people sicker, but a growing number of scientists worry that it has made the virus more contagious.”

Even With Insurance, the COVID Drug Remdesivir Is Shockingly Expensive

Gilead Sciences, the pharmaceutical company behind the COVID-19 treatment remdesivir, just announced what it will charge for the antiviral drug. Patients with health insurance from a private company can expect to pay about $520 for a single dose, The Wall Street Journal reports. That comes out to $3,120 for the five-day treatment the vast majority of patients receive and $5,720 for a ten-day course. The high cost — which will be reduced to $390 per dose under government insurance like Medicare — will be enacted in July and is motivated by Gilead trying to recoup its research and development investments as it ships the drug out to hospitals around the world.

 

Trump Signs Executive Order to Protect U.S. Monuments, Statues

President Trump signed an executive order Friday to protect U.S. monuments from vandalism. The president is calling for prison terms of up to 10 years for people who vandalize or destroy monuments or memorials on federal property. The president’s order also endorses severe penalties for “any person or any entity that damages, defaces, or destroys religious property, including by attacking, removing, or defacing depictions of Jesus or other religious figures or religious artwork.” Following protests over racial injustice, vandals have been toppling statues and defacing monuments such as those of Confederate generals and other memorials. The FBI has issued a “wanted” poster of 15 suspects who were photographed vandalizing a statue of President Andrew Jackson this week at Lafayette Square near the White House.

  • Federal authorities have charged four men in connection with a failed effort last week to pull down the statue of President Andrew Jackson near the White House. Authorities allege that the men damaged and attempted to tear down the Jackson statue, which is located in Lafayette Square, last Monday.

Mississippi Votes to Scrap Flag with Confederate Battle Emblem

It’s almost done: Mississippi lawmakers on Sunday passed a bill to change the state flag. The GOP-controlled state legislature passed the bill 91-23 and the Senate approved the bill 37-14. The current flag features the Confederate battle emblem and is the last remaining state flag to include the symbol. Now, it will be scrapped. A nine-member commission will start the process of selecting a new flag, and residents will vote on that new flag in November. If rejected, the process will start over again and another vote will be held in November 2021.

Renaming Madness Continues

  • Princeton’s Board of Trustees has voted to remove President Woodrow Wilson’s name from the university’s School of Public and International Affairs because of “racist views and policies,” reversing a decision four years ago to let it stand.
  • California Democrats in Orange County are demanding that the county’s John Wayne Airport be renamed and all likenesses of Wayne be removed from the airport, over “racist and bigoted statements” made by the American icon decades ago.

NYC ‘Occupy City Hall’ Group Demands $1B Reduction in Police Budget

Hundreds of protesters living in a tent encampment the call Occupy City Hall, kicked off their sixth consecutive day on Sunday to demand at least $1 billion out of the NYPD’s $6 billion budget be cut before the upcoming July 1 city budget deadline. The #DefundNYPD for #NYCBudgetJustice campaign demands the $1 billion be reinvested for services, programs and infrastructure that “directly benefits Black, Latinx and other communities of color most devastated by COVID-19,” according to the Communities United for Police Reform website. On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he has proposed cutting the police budget by $1billion.

  • As governments nationwide move forward with plans to shift funds away from law enforcement in the aftermath of George Floyd’s police-involved death last month, Los Angeles CEO Sachi Hamai has put forward a proposed budget with recommendations to cut some $145.4 million allocated to local police. The bid, which would entail eliminating six units from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, earned a sharp rebuke from County Sheriff Alex Villanueva over the weekend.

Seattle, Portland and St. Louis Experience More Violence

A police precinct in Seattle, Washington was attacked last Friday night as violent clashes continued there and in Portland, Oregon. Rioters were seen smashing a window at the entrance to Seattle’s West Precinct, prompting a group of officers in riot gear to charge out of the building and chase the crowd away. Earlier Friday, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan met with some occupants of the city’s controversial “CHOP” occupied protest zone, after some tried to block the city’s effort to dismantle the zone earlier in the day. One man has died and another remains hospitalized in critical condition Monday following the latest shooting near Seattle’s Capitol Hill Organized Protest zone. The encampment has become more difficult to manage, drawing violence and a large homeless population since the onset of the occupation three weeks ago. Organizers on Sunday said they’re seeking to move into the abandoned East Precinct, where most protest leadership have already taken up shelter, as part of an effort to secure their best bargaining chip in convincing city officials to act on police reform and other demands.

  • In Portland, crowds showed up again last Friday night near the Multnomah County Justice Center, a frequent site of unrest. Multiple demonstrations took place in the city Friday, including an Abolish ICE protest at nearby Terry Schrunk Plaza. Earlier Friday, Portand’s police chief and local black leaders spoke out against violence and vandalism after the city’s North Precinct and nearby businesses were attacked the night before. When protesters took to Portland once again Monday, the police fought them off as the rioters tried to barricade the Central Precinct in Portland and establish their own police-free zone.
  • Two people were shot and one person was killed in a downtown Louisville park Saturday evening. “It is a tragedy that this area of peaceful protest is now a crime scene,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said.

St. Louis Couple Point Guns at Protesters Headed for Mayor’s House

A married couple brandished firearms at a group of protesters who marched through their upscale St. Louis neighborhood on Sunday night on their way to the home of Mayor Lyda Krewson. The couple confronted the group of about 300 protesters after they breached a gate in the neighborhood. The protesters were en route to Mayor Krewson’s home to demand her resignation after she released names and addresses of residents who suggested defunding the police department. A protester wearing a T-shirt that read, “Hands up, don’t shoot,” urged participants to relocate into the street in an attempt to diffuse the situation. The group broke a gate to get onto the private street, and the couple told police that they only retrieved their firearms until they spotted two men in particular, both of whom were white and armed who started menacing them..

AG Barr Creates Task Force to Investigate Anti-Government Extremists

Attorney General William Barr has created a task force to investigate anti-government extremists that officials said were responsible for instigating violence and disrupting peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd. Barr, in a memo Friday, said there is evidence that extremists belonging to the far-right “boogaloo” movement and those who identify as antifa, a loosely organized anti-fascist group, are responsible for some of the violence that marred protests across the country. Barr also said some of the extremists may have had some support from foreign entities. “Although these extremists profess a variety of ideologies, they are united in their opposition to the core constitutional values of a democratic society governed by law,” Barr said.

Judge: U.S. Must Free Migrant Children from Family Detention

A federal judge on Friday ordered the release of children held with their parents in U.S. immigration jails and denounced the Trump administration’s prolonged detention of families during the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee’s order applies to children held for more than 20 days at three family detention centers in Texas and Pennsylvania operated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Some have been detained since last year. Citing the recent spread of the virus in two of the three facilities, Gee set a deadline of July 17 for children to either be released with their parents or sent to family sponsors.

Gun-Controlled Chicago Suffers Another Deadly Weekend

Activists and local leaders called for more state and federal support Sunday as weekend shootings across Chicago left three children dead, including a 10-year-old who was struck by a stray bullet that came through an apartment window. A 1-year-old, who was riding in the back of a car when someone opened fire from another car, and 17-year-old were also killed. The Saturday night death was among at least 10 shooting fatalities since Friday evening, which followed a deadly Father’s Day weekend and awoke concerns about a violent summer ahead. “It’s out of control where even innocent children are losing their lives,” said neighborhood activist Raul Montes Jr., who called for federal intervention while a state legislator announced a new task force to addressing underlying issues.

  • It’s unclear what federal intervention could do where existing gun-control laws have proven ineffective. NPR has given the state a B+ for its gun laws.

Schools Unprepared & Unequipped for Remote Learning

Like it or not, remote instruction and virtual learning are likely to continue for millions of children this fall. That’s because most districts can’t observe physical distancing with all students attending class together in-person. Many reopening plans rely on hybrid learning schedules, in which students attend school on alternating days or weeks and learn from home on the other days, on a computer when feasible. Yet America’s educators know little about how to improve the online learning experience. And students can’t afford to lose more ground, as many did when classes went online this spring. Millions simply disappeared or logged on but didn’t participate. Nationwide, only one in three districts expected teachers to provide remote instruction and monitor students’ academic engagement this spring, according to a study that tracked 477 districts. As millions of teachers and families discovered this fall, learning remotely is hard. Even if teachers could be trained to do it better, remote learning would still have a glaring accessibility problem. The households least likely to have the two things necessary for quality virtual learning to take place – a computer and high-speed internet access – are low-income households.

Economic News

According to CNBC, the employment-to-population ratio hit 52.8 percent in May, and that means that 47.2 percent of all working-age Americans did not have a job. The share of working-age U.S. citizens who are employed dropped sharply from the recent high of 61.2% in January. The percent unemployed has never been this low in records dating back to the 1940s, with the previous low at 55% in 1955.

Mortgage forbearance is once again trending upward after largely declining through most of June. Active forbearance plans, in which homeowners delay their monthly mortgage payment, rose 79,000 from last week. Total forbearance plans reached 4.68 million as of June 23, amounting to 8.8% of all active mortgages. Collectively, these plans equal more than $1 trillion in unpaid principal on home loans.

Twelve midsize to large corporations – all with more than $10 million in debt – filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection during the third week of June, another consequence of the coronavirus pandemic and continued trouble in America’s oil industry. The filings represent the highest weekly total of the year, and experts believe this is just the beginning of a bankruptcy tsunami that will wash over the country in the months ahead.

A stronger than expected 44.3% surge in pending home sales was reported for May. The pending home sales are another sign of a rebound in housing — and potentially the overall economy, which is now in the midst of a recession due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Israel Closes Down Christian TV Station

Israel is pulling the plug on a new GOD TV channel for failing to disclose its evangelical missionary agenda, local regulators announced Sunday. The Hebrew-speaking “Shelanu” channel, which began airing at the end of April on GOD TV as part of a seven-year deal, was ordered to stop broadcasting this week, according to an announcement by Asher Biton, chairman of Israel’s Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Council. “The channel appeals to Jews with Christian content,” he wrote. “Its original request,” he added, was a “station targeting the Christian population.” Shelanu, part of one of the largest Christian broadcasting networks in the world, with presence in at least 200 countries, said it was “disappointed” by the council’s “unprofessional decision” and plans to reapply for a license.

Terrorist Groups Recruiting ‘Jihadi Soldiers’ to Spread COVID-19

International terrorist organizations are encouraging new members infected with the novel coronavirus to become “jihad soldiers” and spread the flu-like respiratory disease as much as possible in public places, the head of the Commonwealth of Independent States’ anti-terror unit said. Andrei Novikov, chief of the CIS’ Anti-Terrorism Center, said that terrorist groups are also using the outbreak of the coronavirus as an opportunity to recruit new members.

Iran Issues Arrest Warrant for President Trump Over Killing of General

Iran has issued an arrest warrant for U.S. President Donald Trump over the drone strike that killed a top Iranian general in January, the semi-official Fars news agency reported Monday. Trump is one of 36 people Iran has issued arrest warrants for in relation to the death of Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps, but Trump was at the top of the list. Interpol, though, said they would not comply.

Russian Intelligence Paid Bounties to Kill US Troops in Afghanistan

Russia’s military intelligence agency has paid bounties to Taliban-linked militants who killed NATO troops in Afghanistan, including Americans, U.S. intelligence officials have determined, The New York Times reported Friday. Seventeen American soldiers were killed in combat in Afghanistan last year, the U.S. Department of Defense said. Interrogations of Afghan militants and criminals uncovered that money was offered to Taliban-tied militants by Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency. U.S. intelligence officials believe the bounties could be retribution for a gun battle in Syria in 2018 in which 200-300 mercenaries from a Russia-tied security firm were killed in a four-hour firefight at a base that housed U.S.-led troops. The bounties Russia allegedly put on U.S. troops in Afghanistan led to at least one U.S. soldier’s death, sources told the New York Times

  • The White House, Russia and even the Taliban have said the Times’ story is false. Nevertheless, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle demanded to know what the White House knew about the bounties. The Times reported Monday that intelligence officials say President Trump and the White House’s National Security Council received a written briefing in February about Russia’s bounty rewards. President Trump has stated that no one had briefed him.

China Forced ‘Hundreds of Thousands’ of Abortions on Minority Uighurs

The Chinese government is taking draconian measures to slash birth rates among Uighurs and other minorities as part of a sweeping campaign to curb its Muslim population, even as it encourages some of the country’s Han majority to have more children. The state regularly subjects minority women to pregnancy checks, and forces intrauterine devices, sterilization and even abortion on hundreds of thousands. The campaign over the past four years in the far west region of Xinjiang is leading to what some experts are calling a form of “demographic genocide.” The population control measures are backed by mass detention both as a threat and as a punishment for failure to comply.

China Demands Elderly Christians Renounce God or Lose Benefits

China’s communist government is warning elderly Christians that they will lose basic benefits if they don’t stop practicing their faith. Such benefits include housing, food, clothing, medical care, and funeral expenses. At the end of 2019, local government officials threatened the woman, in her 60s, that the subsidy would be withdrawn unless she removes images of Jesus from her home. ‘Because the Communist Party feeds you,’ they told the woman, ‘you must only believe in it, not God.’ Two months later, the pension was canceled because she refused to remove the symbols,” the report said.

China Passes Law to Crack Down on Hong Kong Secessionists

China approved a contentious national security law that will allow authorities to crack down on subversive and secessionist activity in Hong Kong, a move many see as Beijing’s boldest yet to erase the legal firewall between the semi-autonomous territory and mainland China’s authoritarian Communist Party system. Tam Yiu-Chung, Hong Kong’s sole representative on the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, “We hope the law will serve as a deterrent to prevent people from stirring up trouble,” Tam said. “Don’t let Hong Kong be used as a tool to split the country.” It follows months of anti-government protests in Hong Kong last year that at times descended into violence.

Wildfires

More than 13,000 residents were forced from their homes after a fast-moving fire broke out south of Saratoga Springs, Utah. The Knolls Fire began soon after 1 p.m. MDT Sunday in an area known as the Knolls on the western shore of Utah Lake. Gusty winds quickly drove the fire north. Some gusts reached 50 mph. Officials ordered the residents of 3,100 homes to evacuate, about one-third of Saratoga Springs. Twelve homes were damaged and one destroyed. The fire quickly consumed more than 15.6 square miles and was 25% contained Monday morning. State Highway 68 was closed Monday morning because of downed power lines and other debris.

The Knolls Fire was just one of several major wildfires burning Sunday night in Utah, with the state under Red Flag warnings Monday for high winds and low humidity. The Traverse Fire, which was started Saturday by someone setting off fireworks, forced about 230 homes to evacuate near Lehi, Draper and Alpine, Utah. It had burned 467 acres and was 26% contained. The Canal Fire, burning since Friday near Oak City, Utah, broke through fire lines on Sunday. About 300 residents in and around the town of Leamington were ordered to evacuate. The Canal Fire has burned more than 78 square miles.

One person was killed and dozens of homes destroyed after a fast-moving wildfire tore through a Southern California desert town near the Salton Sea, officials said Monday. The blaze began Sunday night in Niland, a small, poor agricultural community about 100 miles from San Diego. The Imperial County Public Health Department said on Twitter that about 40 homes were estimated to have been lost, but the fire has since been contained.

Weather

One of the most remote and isolated places on Earth – the South Pole – has warmed over three times the global rate for the past 30 years, a new study reports. This warming is linked to accelerating ice melt elsewhere in Antarctica, which could fuel more rapid rises in sea levels worldwide. The study was published Monday in the peer-reviewed British journal Nature Climate Change.

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

Signs of the Times (6/26/20)

June 26, 2020

“The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Matthew 13:41-43)

Judge Rules NY Wrong to Limit Churches while Condoning Protests

A federal judge said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Letitia James, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio “exceeded” their executive authority by limiting worship services while condoning mass protests as the state continues to reopen from coronavirus restrictions. U.S. District Judge Gary L. Sharpe issued a preliminary injunction Friday on behalf of two Catholic priests — Steven Soos and Nicholas Stamos — and a trio of Orthodox Jewish congregants — Elchanan Perr, Daniel Schonborn, and Mayer Mayerfeld — in Brooklyn, represented by the Thomas More Society. “This decision is an important step toward inhibiting the suddenly emerging trend of exercising absolute monarchy on [the] pretext of public health,” said Special Counsel Christopher Ferrara.

Lawlessness Abounds While Do-Nothing Officials Remain Silent

Mobs of protesters are allowed to violate Covid restrictions, topple and deface statues and monuments, riot and loot while authorities remain silent and do nothing to inhibit such lawlessness. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Friday that he would like to see those toppling public statues and defacing monuments held accountable and prosecuted. “There are already laws on the books, but we need people to enforce them… And, if they don’t, I’ve introduced legislation that would withhold federal money to those cities who do not.” President Trump called people who tear down or deface monuments “terrorists” on Thursday and promised there would be “retribution.” The president, plans to sign a “very strong executive order” protecting monuments soon. Trump said people who want to have monuments like statues of Confederate leaders removed should go through the proper channels.

  • Here’s an example of how looking the other way causes its own problems: A distraught mother, who was caught up in a violent street mob in downtown Fredericksburg, Virginia, was told by 911 dispatchers that she was on her own. “They’re on my car! They’re on my car right now,” the motorist told the dispatcher. “They are blocking streets. The dispatcher told the woman their hands were tied because city leaders had sanctioned the protests. City Hall had given the protesters permission to block streets and impede traffic.

Protesters Continue to Attack Statues and Monuments

Several more incidents of attempts to pull down statues and deface monuments have continued across the country, sometimes targeting those of people who opposed slavery. Protesters in Madison, Wisconsin toppled the statue of Col. Hans Christian Heg and threw it into Lake Monona. Heg was a Norwegian migrant who fought for the Union in the Civil War against the south to end slavery. The group also pulled down the Forward statue outside the State Capitol — which the Wisconsin Historical Society said symbolizes devotion and progress. Democratic state Senator Tim Carpenter of Milwaukee was present for the overnight protests and said he was assaulted by the protesters after taking a video. There were reports of protesters also targeting Washington, D.C.’s Emancipation Memorial – a statue honoring President Abraham Lincoln who was perhaps the primary American force in ending slavery in the nation.

  • However, it is mostly fringe groups, mostly white, who are mounting such attacks. Black Entertainment Television co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Robert Johnson said Wednesday that “Black people laugh at white people” who topple statues in the name of racial justice. “Look, the people who are basically tearing down statues, trying to make a statement are basically borderline anarchists, the way I look at it,” Mr. Johnson said.

White Supremacists Sparking Protest Violence

White supremacist groups are using many channels on the encrypted messaging app, Telegram, to encourage violence at Black Lives Matter protests. According to a new report by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) — shared exclusively with CNN — these channels have thousands of members. The ISD, a London-based think tank studying extremism, says they include frequent and explicit threats of violence against minority communities and BLM protesters — threats that in some cases have translated into violence. In May, the White supremacist group Rise Above Movement launched its own Telegram channel, which, according to the Countering Extremism Project, features anti-Semitism and anti-migration themes.

  • All kinds of fringe groups are infiltrating the BLM protests to stir up violence and rioting, some reportedly financed by Russia and China seeking to destabilize the country.

Seattle’s CHOP Zone Shutting Down

The de facto leader of the autonomous protest zone in Seattle said Wednesday “a lot of people have already” left the area, days after the mayor said she was going to persuade people to leave. A statement from a Twitter account that claims to be associated with the protest zone — known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), or Capitol Hill Organized Protest — said that “few people remain in our beloved CHOP.” The statement added that “the CHOP project is now concluded.” In recent days, at least four shootings have been reported in the area, one of which left a person dead. Seattle community leader Andre Taylor, who has been tasked by Mayor Durkan to try to get people to leave peacefully, said Wednesday, “It is over because of the violence,” Taylor told CNN, adding, “I’ve told people here don’t be focused on the location. CHOP is not a location, it is an idea.”

  • Numerous Seattle businesses – including an auto repair shop, a tattoo parlor and a property management company – sued the city Wednesday, alleging city officials were complicit in allowing an “occupied protest” that has made them feel unsafe in their neighborhood and negatively impacted their revenue. Workers and residents also joined the lawsuit over CHOP, the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest.

Protesters Try to Establish Another ‘Zone’ in NYC

Protesters in New York City spent a second straight night camped out in front of City Hall, demanding a $1 billion cut to the police department’s budget. The group of about 100 protesters, calling themselves “Occupy City Hall,” gathered at a nearby park around 5 p.m. Tuesday and haven’t left. The protesters say the money saved should be redistributed to social and community services as well as health care and education. The city has until June 30 to finalize its entire budget, which last fiscal year allocated $6B for the police department.

Senate Democrats Block GOP Police Reform Bill

Senate Democrats said the GOP police reform bill fell far short of addressing racism in policing and did not respond effectively to the national outcry for change. The Republican bill encourages, but does not mandate, local police and law enforcement agencies to curtail practices such as chokeholds with the threat of a loss of federal funds. Senate Republicans said Democrats were looking to score political points rather than deal with a national crisis.

More Records Set for Daily Corona Cases in U.S.

The U.S. reported 39,972 daily cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, a new daily record, according to Johns Hopkins. Coronavirus cases are trending upward in about half of U.S. states, and several have reported record-breaking daily new case counts this week. Three of the nation’s most populous states — California, Texas and Florida — reported record-setting highs in daily new cases on Wednesday. California reported 7,149 new cases Wednesday. Texas reported 5,551 new cases. And Florida reported 5,508 new cases. Then Florida blew by its record high on Thursday with nearly 9,000 new cases, substantially higher than Wednesday’s record.

  • Arizona reported another 3,056 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday and a record 2,453 patients hospitalized, as trends continue to worsen statewide with no sign of abating. Emergency department visits and ICU beds in use hovered around their highest levels as well. As of Wednesday, 85% of current inpatient beds and 88% of ICU beds were in use for COVID-19 and other patients.
  • One day after pausing additional efforts to reopen Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday announced another round of restrictions, including closing bars and limiting restaurant occupancy. The state was in its third phase of reopening the economy, which allowed restaurants to increase occupancy levels to 75% and most businesses to move to 50% occupancy. “I ask all Texans to do their part to slow the spread of Covid-19 by wearing a mask, washing their hands regularly, and socially distancing from others. The more that we all follow these guidelines, the safer our state will be and the more we can open up Texas for business.” On-premise alcohol consumption has also been suspended in bars in Florida, according to a tweet from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
  • Another 1,854 New Jerseyans will be counted as victims of the coronavirus following a state review of death certificates and prior outbreaks, officials said Thursday. The state’s prior count, updated daily, only included lab-confirmed cases and deaths. About a third of the probable deaths occurred in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

Most New Corona Cases are in People Under 45 Years-Old

The coronavirus surge across the South and West is concentrated in younger adults, meaning fewer people are dying compared to March and April, though people with underlying conditions must be cautious and the long-term effects of any infection aren’t fully known, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said the shift in median age may indicate that older people are taking greater precautions and that increased testing is finding more cases.

  • Among Americans ages 18 to 29, 45% said in the past week they have socialized with people they do not live with while not maintaining social distancing, according to a new survey. Among Americans ages 45 to 64, 28% reported socializing without social distancing. Americans over 65 were the least likely (21%) to have hung out with people they don’t live with while not social distancing.

Officials Call for Young People to Help Slow Corona Spread

Dr. Robert Redfield, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, urged the public, especially millennials and those under 40, to commit to following CDC Covid-19 guidelines. “It’s really important that this group really commit themselves to these practices to protect those at risk,” including the elderly and those with underlying morbidities. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, said more younger people are testing positive for coronavirus — and while cases many of them may have mild symptoms, they can spread the virus to vulnerable people. “So if you get infected, you will infect someone else, who clearly will infect someone else,” Fauci said. “So people are infecting other people. And then ultimately, you will infect someone who’s vulnerable. Now that may be somebody’s grandmother, grandfather, uncle who’s on chemotherapy, aunt who’s on radiation or chemotherapy or a child who has leukemia.”

  • Redfield also says the virus may be far more prevalent in the U.S. than it appears, with antibody testing suggesting the actual number of infections is 10 times what’s on the official scorecard. That’s largely due to asymptomatic persons who never got tested upfront.

President Trump’s Campaign Staffers Test Positive for Coronavirus

Several of President Donald Trump’s campaign staffers are quarantining this week after attending his rally in Tulsa last Saturday and interacting with several colleagues who later tested positive for coronavirus. After eight staffers tested positive, several of the campaign’s top officials decided to quarantine for the week instead of going into the office. Staff had only recently returned to the office after months of working from home because of coronavirus restrictions.

Covid-19 Deaths in Blacks & Hispanics Mostly Due to Poverty

A Washington Post-Ipsos poll underscores the coronavirus pandemic’s profoundly disparate impact on races. The nationwide survey finds that 31 percent of black adults say they know someone firsthand who has been killed by the virus, compared with 17 percent of adults who are Hispanic and 9 percent who are white. The virus doesn’t know race, but the bodies of people living in poverty or near poverty have been weakened by poor nutrition and underlying medical conditions resulting from lack of access to quality health care.

Non-Whites and Hispanics Now Constitute Majority of U.S. Under-16 Population

For the first time, non-whites and Hispanics made up a majority of the under-16 population in 2019, fueled by falling white fertility rates and the rapid growth in the Asian and Hispanic communities. However, young people overall as a proportion of total population has declined by 1.1% due to the low fertility rate. Meanwhile, the 65-and-older population grew in the past decade by a whopping 13.8 million people, or 34.2%, driving up the national median age from 37.2 years in 2010 to 38.4 years in 2019.

Airlines: Passengers Must Wear Masks or Stay Off Planes

Air travelers who refuse to wear face masks on planes to protect passengers and crews from COVID-19 are not only being stopped from flying now, but may also be banned from flying commercially in the future, U.S. airlines are warning. The airlines also are  taking other measures, including informing travelers when flights are getting full so they can make other plans, and leaving some seats open on planes to help create more distancing. The Allied Pilots Association, representing pilots at American Airlines, proposed Wednesday that the government buy seats on flights so that passengers don’t have to sit right next to someone.

Companies Halt Advertising on Social Media Over Hate Speech

Shares of both Facebook and Twitter were down more than 7% in mid-day trading Friday after Unilever said it would pull its advertising from the social media companies for the rest of the year. The massive household goods company’s decision was driven by concerns over hate speech and divisive content on the platforms, it said. Verizon also joined the growing list of major companies pledging to halt advertising with Facebook for the month of July to protest hate speech on the social media platform. Other companies that have joined the boycott include Eddie Bauer, the U.S. clothing store chain, and Ben & Jerry’s, the ice cream maker, along with The North Face, Patagonia, REI, Mozilla and Upwork among about 100 companies said to be committed. The boycott idea was launched June 17 by the #StopHateForProfit campaign, which includes the NAACP,  Anti-Defamation League, Sleeping Giants, Color of Change, Free Press and Common Sense.

  • The problem is that the U.S. Constitution supports free speech. Banning hate speech will require censors to apply subjective criteria according to their individual biases. Christian opposition to the LGBTQ agenda will be considered hate speech – it’s already happening to some degree now. So, who determines the rules? Facebook? Unilever?

Facebook Whistleblower: Moderators Targeting Conservatives

Another report demonstrating rampant censorship of conservative content by Facebook content moderators and an interview with the latest insider who experienced it firsthand was released Thursday, by the non-profit media company, Project Veritas. “I was seeing them interfering on a global level in elections. I saw a blatant exception that just targeted conservatives or favored liberals—and you know, we’re deleting on average 300 posts or actioning 300 posts a day,” said Arizona-based Facebook content moderator Ryan Hartwig. “If you magnify that by however many content moderators there are on a global scale, that’s a lot of stuff that’s getting taken down,” he said. Hartwig is the second Facebook Whistleblower Project Veritas debuted this week to report on such behavior. Earlier this week, recordings captured Facebook content moderators bragging about deleting posts and comments supporting President Donald Trump and conservative causes.

  • According to the U.S. Constitution, such targeted censorship could be seen as sedition.

Supremes Back Trump for Rapid Removal of Asylum Seekers

The Supreme Court handed a green light Thursday to the Trump administration in its effort to speed up the removal of those seeking asylum. The court ruled that asylum-seekers claiming fear of persecution abroad do not have to be given a federal court hearing before quick removal from the United States if they initially fail to prove that claim. The decision was written by Associate Justice Samuel Alito. Associate Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented.

Appeals Court Rejects Trump’s Border Wall Funding

A federal appeals court ruled Friday that President Trump did not have the legal power to siphon money from the Pentagon to build his border wall, erecting another legal hurdle in the path of his campaign promise to build the wall. The 2-1 ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the wall is not a military project, so Mr. Trump couldn’t transfer $2.5 billion in military money over to the border project. “The transfer of funds at issue here was unlawful,” Judge Thomas wrote, joined in his decision by Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw, both Clinton appointees.

IRS Sent Stimulus Checks to More Than 1 Million Dead People

More than 1 million dead people got stimulus checks from the federal government, a watchdog agency reported Thursday. The Government Accountability Office said that a legal interpretation left the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service unable to use government death records to stop the stimulus checks from going to people who are deceased. As a result, nearly 1.1 million payments totaling nearly $1.4 billion were distributed to dead people as of April 30, the report said. More than 159 million checks totaling $267 billion were distributed. The IRS stopped payments to deceased people when the fourth batch of checks were sent, the report said. The Treasury Department said that anyone who received a stimulus payment on behalf someone who is deceased should return the money immediately. It was not reported how many checks were returned.

Economic News

About 1.48 million workers filed first time claims for unemployment insurance last week, the Labor Department said Thursday. That means 47.1 million Americans have made initial jobless benefits claims in just 14 weeks. Continued regular jobless claims, which count people who have filed for unemployment benefits for at least two weeks in a row, stood at 19.5 million, down from 20.3 million in the week before. The pace of improvement remains disappointingly slow, stressing that it will take a long time until the labor market is back at its pre-pandemic level.

  • The extra $600 per week in stimulus money ends on July 1. No longer will some of the unemployed be getting more in unemployment benefits than they were earning on the job.

Consumer spending bounced back sharply in America last month. That’s the good news. But paychecks got smaller at the same time, complicating hopes for a quick economic rebound. Personal consumption expenditures jumped an unprecedented 8.2%, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Friday. It reversed a 12.6% decline in spending in April, when the economy ground to a halt and people stayed at home to limit the spread of Covid-19. America’s savings rate declined in May to 23.2%, down from 32.2% in April.

The International Monetary Fund has slashed its global economic forecasts for 2020, saying the coronavirus pandemic is causing a much steeper recession and a slower recovery than initially expected. The organization said Wednesday that it thinks global GDP will contract by 4.9% this year, downgrading its estimate from April, when output was forecast to shrink by 3%.The pandemic is causing an “unprecedented decline in global activity,” according to the IMF. It said the global labor market has taken a “catastrophic” hit.

GNC Holdings Inc., parent company of health and wellness retailer GNC, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection late Tuesday and said it plans to close “at least 800 to 1,200 stores.” The Pittsburgh-based chain, which had approximately 5,200 retail locations in the U.S. and 7,300 locations globally as of March 31, said the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the need to file for bankruptcy protection after being under “financial pressure for the past several years.”

Macy’s is cutting approximately 3,900 corporate and management jobs as part of its restructuring to address the impact COVID-19 has had on sales. Staffing at stores, the supply chain and customer support network will be reduced but Macy’s expects to adjust as sales recover.

Microsoft is getting out of the brick-and-mortar retail business. The company announced Friday it will close down all of its 83 physical stores and switch to online only.

Chuck E. Cheese’s parent company, CEC Entertainment, filed for bankruptcy Thursday, blaming the financial strain caused by Covid-19 and the prolonged closures of its entertainment centers. CEC, which also owns Peter Piper Pizza, said it will use Chapter 11 protection to “achieve a comprehensive balance sheet restructuring that supports its re-opening and longer-term strategic plans.” So far, nearly half of Chuck E. Cheese’s 555 locations have reopened, with plans to reopen more locations weekly.

Israeli Annexation of Settlements Means War Says Hamas

Hamas said on Thursday that it views Israel’s intentions to extend its sovereignty over parts of the Jordan Valley, Judea and Samaria as a declaration of war. The head of the Arab League claimed at a UN meeting on Wednesday agreed that Israel’s extension of sovereignty over Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria would fracture peace in the Middle East and could cause “a religious war in and beyond our region.” However, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman seek to continue positive relations with Israel to help combat the Iranian threat against their own countries, with Iranian missiles continuing to fly out of Yemen at the Saudis.

Israel Blamed for Air Strikes On Iranian Military in Syria

Syria accused Israel of three air attacks Tuesday night on Iranian-backed military sites in the southern, central and eastern parts of the country that killed seven military personnel. While the IDF declined to comment on the reported air raids, Israel has made no secret of its intentions to drive Iran out of Syria and has admitted to over a thousand strikes on its belligerent northern neighbor. Maj. General Amos Yadlin, who heads the Institute for National Security Studies, warned on Wednesday that Iran is starting to retaliate against Israel on several fronts. “An attack near Sweida shows that Iran is broadening its presence in the sensitive area of the ‎Mountain of the Druze as well. This area includes the area to which the Russians committed that Iran and Hezbollah ‎would have no access,” the former head of military intelligence tweeted.

More Than 1,000 Terrorists Arrested Across Europe As 119 Plots Uncovered

Almost 120 terror plots were uncovered across Europe last year, resulting in more than 1,000 arrests. ISIS was responsible for all but one of the 10 people killed. The latest figures covering terror incidents in 2019 have been revealed in Europol’s EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report. In total, 119 terrorist attacks were foiled, failed or completed last year in 13 EU countries, also resulting in 27 people being wounded, 26 of them by ISIS. The 27th was hurt in a far-right terrorist attack. The attacks led to 1,004 people being arrested on suspicion of terrorism-related offences in 19 EU member states, with Belgium, France, Italy, Spain and the UK reporting the highest numbers.

Troops to Be Moved From Germany to Poland

President Trump said Wednesday that some of the 10,000 American troops he’s pulling out of Germany will be moved to Poland on NATO’s eastern flank to counter Russian aggression. Trump has said he is determined to cut the number of troops in Germany from about 35,000 to 25,000. He suggested last week—and again Wednesday—that the move is tied to his anger over Germany’s failure to meet NATO defense spending goals. Trump said unlike Germany, Poland is one of only eight members of the alliance that are fulfilling NATO’s target pledge of spending 2% of their gross national products on their own defense.

Desperate Venezuelans Go To Extremes To Get Clean Water

With its economy in shambles, Venezuela’s infrastructure has crumbled. Power blackouts happen regularly. Garbage goes uncollected. But it’s the lack of reliable running water that has become particularly burdensome during the coronavirus pandemic. More than 4 out of every 5 Venezuelans said they didn’t have reliable water service. To search for water, residents routinely violate a nationwide quarantine that was imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Some residents have cobbled together their own — often elaborate — plumbing systems. Water pooling in a highway tunnel construction project supplies 5,000 residents in one Caracas neighborhood. Four other neighborhoods have run similar lines from the tunnel.

Mexico City Police Chief Injured in Assassination Attempt

Mexico City’s police chief survived a brazen assassination attempt Friday morning carried out by gunmen with assault weapons and grenades. Two bodyguards protecting public security chief Omar Garcia Harfuch were killed in the attack as well as an innocent bystander. A short time later and apparently from his hospital bed, Garcia on Twitter blamed the “cowardly attack” on one of Mexcio’s most violent cartels, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel. Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said a large truck holding gunmen with rifles blocked the chief’s SUV and opened fire around 6:30 a.m. Friday.

Environment

The long-awaited cloud of Saharan dust is poised to “hit” the U.S. Gulf Coast on Thursday and Friday, forecasters say, promising hazy skies and fiery red sunsets but also potential health problems. Nicknamed “Godzilla” for its unusually large size, the plume of dust began to emerge off western Africa last weekend and now has traveled 4,000 miles over the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. The mass of extremely dry and dusty air known as the Saharan Air Layer forms over the Sahara Desert and moves across the North Atlantic every three to five days from late spring to early fall, peaking in late June to mid-August. It can occupy a roughly 2-mile thick layer in the atmosphere. Several Caribbean islands were coated with dust earlier this week. The resultant poor air quality can aggravate those suffering from respiratory issues such as asthma and COPD.

Earthquakes

A moderately strong earthquake that rattled central California on Wednesday triggered a rock slide that sent boulders and debris crashing into a camping area. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake had a magnitude of 5.8 on the Richter Scale. The temblor jolted the area around 10:40 a.m. and had an epicenter of about 10 miles south-southeast of Lone Pine, Calif. Lone Pine is located between Sequoia National Park and Death Valley National Park. One roadway was closed due to debris and rocks in the road. Campgrounds were evacuated and no injuries were reported

Hundreds of homes were damaged and six people dead after the powerful 7.4 magnitude earthquake rattled the Mexican state of Oaxaca Tuesday morning, shaking buildings and prompting a tsunami warning. At least 500 homes were damaged, although most was reported to be minor. Some 50 historical monuments also sustained damage. A hospital caring for COVID-19 patients suffered structural damage and had to be evacuated. There were more than 140 aftershocks, most of them small. The largest tsunami wave measured was 2.3 feet.

Weather

“The Arctic is figuratively and literally on fire — it’s warming much faster than we thought it would in response to rising levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and this warming is leading to a rapid meltdown and increase in wildfires,” University of Michigan environmental school dean Jonathan Overpeck, a climate scientist, said. “The record warming in Siberia is a warning sign of major proportions,” Overpeck wrote.

At least 83 people were killed by lightning strikes Thursday in northeastern India. At least 10 others were injured. Several of the victims were struck while planting seeds on farms. Storms and heavy rains with flooding are expected to continue in both India and Bangladesh. Between 10 and 20 inches of rain are forecast from northeastern Bangladesh into India this weekend.

Numerous roads in Houston and areas west of the city flooded Thursday morning, causing some people to become stranded in their cars and some homes to be flooded. Persistent thunderstorms brought up to 8 inches of rain in 12 hours in some locations.

The Four Horsemen Have Been Loosed

June 25, 2020

The racial protests, coronavirus pandemic, economic downturn, famine, and locust invasions are a sign that the end-times are upon us. At the very least, they are, they are setting the stage for the tribulation to come: severe economic depression, waves of murderous violence, acute food shortages, ecological disasters, and severe weather. All of which will lead to the one-world government described in Revelation 13.

A long time ago, the New World Order folks had three specific objectives in mind: 1) take control over the world’s financial systems; 2) take over the media; 3) take over education. This they have accomplished. Now, the New World Order, (or what I call the Deep World, which is so much more than just an-anti-Trump Deep State), is using the media to incite panic in order to institutionalize totalitarian laws that would have once seemed unthinkable in the land of the free.

Using ‘peace and safety’ as the seemingly logical rationale for such draconian action, the initial foundation of the one-world government is being established right now, right here. However, the Bible warns that: “When they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.” (1Thessalonians 5:3)

However, the ‘Day’ of judgment that will come upon them won’t happen until after the 7-year Tribulation, which is getting closer but is not yet here. In this time Jesus called, “the beginning of sorrows,” the forces of evil are laying the groundwork for their one-world government, which on the surface is not necessarily a bad thing, but we know from Scripture that Satan will be pulling the strings behind the scenes.

All of this current turmoil will induce a severe economic downturn that will call for more control over the finances of each and every one of us. Digital currency, vaccination certificates, contact tracing, will be positioned as the seemingly logical basis for controlling the spread of the virus and preventing financial disaster. However, these measures will also lay the foundation for tracking individuals in an invasive way that violates human rights and freedoms, and set the stage for the Mark of the Beast to come.

None of this is a surprise to God, In fact, it’s all part of His plan. That doesn’t mean He is causing the virus, racism, famine and locusts, but rather that they are a consequence of the law of sowing and reaping: sow to the flesh, reap corruption; sow to the Spirit, reap everlasting life. (Galatians 5:7-8)

In addition, God is allowing sin to reach its fullest extent before He wipes it out completely once and for all, as prophesied in Daniel 8:23 – “And in the latter time of their kingdom, When the transgressors have reached their fullness, A king shall arise, having fierce features, who understands sinister schemes.” This king is, of course, the anti-Christ who will head the one-world government.

None of this will happen all of a sudden. Prophecies that were seen in full by the prophets in the Bible most often occur over time. It took many years for the fall of Judea and Israel to occur despite the Old Testament prophets seeing it happen in visions that made it look like it would happen quickly. Some end-time prophecies, however, will occur in one day and even one hour, as the Scriptures prophesy, but most will evolve over time.

What is happening now is a result of the Four Horsemen of Revelation chapter six having already been loosed upon the world as Jesus opened the first four seals of the scroll, which is the property deed to earth that he reacquired from Satan when He sacrificed Himself on the cross to bear our sins and then rose again to stand at the right-hand of God, having forged a path for us to be reconciled back to God the Father.

The first horse is white, usually the color of goodness. But this one is a fake, and that’s all Satan knows how to do, imitate the things of God and then corrupt them. As a fallen angel, Satan does not possess the creative powers of the Lord God Almighty who established the earth and the heavens and everything in it. This white horse emulates the one Jesus will ride into His second coming as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, as described in Revelation 19:11-16)

“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”

The fake rider of Satan’s white horse has a crown and a bow and comes to conquer, as described in Revelation 6:2. But he has no arrows, he’s essentially powerless. Instead, he conquers through deception, as the anti-Christ will when he takes over a one-world government through diplomatic means while appearing to be a ‘man of peace.’ With the help of the second beast, the so-called False Prophet, the entire world will worship the aanti-Christ as described in Revelation 13:4,8,14:

“So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?’… All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life… And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast.”

Daniel also saw the deceit of the anti-Christ in his vision in Daniel 8:25: “Through his cunning, he shall cause deceit to prosper under his rule.”

The second horse is red and it’s rider has come to take peace away from the earth. This is not through war, but rather by getting people to turn on each other, and that, “people should kill one another” as it says in Revelation 6:4. Through this rider, Satan is stirring up anger, hatred and division, and we see the beginning of this even now, not only with anarchists taking advantage of the racial protests to stir up violence, but also in the day-to-day angry confrontations between those who choose to wear masks or not to wear a mask to fend off the coronavirus.

The third horse is black whose rider carries a pair of scales which represent the dark economic times to come in which food shortages and famine drive up the cost of food, saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius.” (Revelation 6:6). This is essentially eight to ten times higher prices than normal, a product of scarcity. The command “do not harm the oil and the wine” is thought by most scholars to represent the rich elites not living in want while the masses struggle to even obtain bread. Still others see the oil and the wine representing the things of the Spirit, meaning the saints will be supernaturally protected.

The fourth pale horse represents death: “And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.” (Revelation 6:8)

This means that, even in the runup to the 7-year Tribulation, a quarter of the earth will die due to murder, war, famine, and pestilence (i.e. the beasts of the earth, like the coronavirus).

Like the martyrs under the throne of Heaven shown when Jesus opens the fifth seal, we too will be crying out as in Revelation 6:10, “How long O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” But the Lord’s answer tells us that this is not yet the end of things to come: “It was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.” (Revelation 6:11)

And so today we are under the dark cloud of the Four Horsemen, but not yet to the time when Jesus opens the sixth seal which foretells of a “great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place.” (Revelation 6:12-13)

This cataclysmic event might be the result of nuclear war, volcanoes, earthquakes or even a meteor strike, which obviously hasn’t happened yet. But it is coming because it is part of God’s plan. However, this awful event is still only a harbinger of the even worse things to come when Jesus opens the seventh seal bring forth the Trumpet Plagues of Revelation 8-9 and the Bowl Plagues of Revelation 16.

Since this has been foretold in Scripture and represents God’s plan, there is nothing we can do to prevent it from happening. Much as we might try, we cannot prevent the one-world government from forming. Our energy is better spent evangelizing instead of getting caught up in the atrocious politics of the day.

Nor should Christians expect to not be affected by all these terrible things. Jesus tells us that “the rain falls on the just and the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45) He also says that “in this world you will have tribulation.” (John 16:33). Many believe they will be raptured out of all these looming catastrophes, but the Bible says otherwise.

Christians will be martyred and killed, as prophesied. Matthew 24:9 says, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.” And Revelation 13:7 says, “It was granted to him [i.e. the anti-Christ] to make war with the saints and to overcome them.”

Therefore, there will be saints around when the anti-Christ is enthroned as the leader of the one-world government and he will be actively persecuting Christians. There will also be saints around when the anti-Christ institutes the so-called “mark of the beast” which will be necessary to buy and sell, that is to survive. The Bible warns the saints not so succumb to taking the mark of the beast in their wrist or forehead because doing so will forfeit their salvation, as described in Revelation 13:16-17 and 14:9-11.

Scripture says all this will happen, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. However, we do have a choice as to how we will respond to the turmoil and persecution. Will we respond with love and compassion or with anger and hate? Just as Jesus had compassion on the sinful in His day, so too do we need to show love and compassion in order to win souls for Christ, and to save people from eternal damnation.

We need to clothe ourselves in God’s ‘agape’, unconditional love. Only when we are filled by the Spirit and reflecting God’s love into the world will we be fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 61:1-5: “Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”

And when they come to us, we need to show them compassion, because compassion is putting love into action, just as Jesus did when he felt compassion for the large crowd that followed him out into the wilderness. He then miraculously healed and fed the multitude as described in Matthew 14:13-21. So, too, must we get prepared to offer Christ’s love and compassion to all who will suffer in the days to come, and not just those we agree with or approve of.

This is the time of which Jesus spoke when He said the harvest was plentiful but the workers are few (Luke 10:2). Our job in the end-times is to win souls, especially those who are closest to the precipice of hell. Don’t waste your time and energy fighting in vain to prevent God’s plan of judgment from unfolding, but rather be filled with His love and light and hold out the hand of compassion to a dying world.

Signs of the Times (6/23/20)

June 23, 2020

“But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.” (1Thessalonians 5:8-10)

GenZ is Ready for a Revolution?

Born between the years of 1996 and 2010, GenZers have grown up in an era where gun violence is frequent, immigration is a hotly debated topic and the deteriorating climate is positioned as a global crisis. They are now coming of age during a global pandemic that is disproportionately affecting black and brown communities, and as protesters take to the streets to call out racism and police brutality. GenZ is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation yet. Certain members of GenZ are adamant that the time for revolution — in the streets, online and at the polls — is now. They believe that they are uniquely positioned to affect change using social media to unite their generation. However, it is estimated that only one out of ten will actually vote based on the latest data.

Commentary: These Protests are Now a Highly Organized Ideological Movement

The swarm of protests across the country are not a momentary civil disturbance. This is a highly organized and well-funded political movement. It has vast ambitions well beyond racial disparities. Its ideology is not unlike other socialistic and totalitarian uprisings in history meant to topple the government even as it tears down statues of the past. In this case, however, the goal is ultimately to eliminate nationalistic influence and institute global governance, as prophesied in Revelation 13.

BLM Leader Casts Jesus as a White Supremacist

Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King called Monday for the removal of statues, murals and stained glass windows that depict Jesus as a “white European,” which he claimed “are a form of white supremacy.” “Yes, I think the statues of the white European they claim is Jesus should also come down,” King, a former surrogate on Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’s 2020 presidential campaign, wrote on Twitter. “They are a form of white supremacy. Always have been.” King’s targeting of religious artwork comes as various activist groups have moved beyond tearing down Confederate statues and are now calling for the removal of many other types of historical monuments.

Protesters Try Unsuccessfully to Establish an Autonomous Zone in D.C.

Tensions were high in front of the White House Monday night after Black Lives Matter protesters worked to remove the Andrew Jackson statue in Lafayette Square. President Donald Trump tweeted that “numerous people” had been arrested “for the disgraceful vandalism, in Lafayette Park, of the magnificent Statue of Andrew Jackson, in addition to the exterior defacing of St. John’s Church across the street.” Protesters had tried to carve out a Seattle-style “autonomous zone,”  which they called the “Black House Autonomous Zone.” But police on Tuesday moved protesters out and cleared the area near Lafayette Square and St. John’s Episcopal Church. “Defund the Police” street graffiti was also removed from the area on Tuesday.

Statues Torn Down Nationwide as Police Stand By and Watch

Protesters in San Francisco tore down a bust of Ulysses Grant and statues of Spanish missionary Junipero Serra and “Star Spangled Banner” writer Francis Scott Key in a scene that was repeated across the U.S. The San Francisco protesters arrived at Golden Gate Park Friday night, defacing the statues with red paint and writing “slave owner” on pedestals before using ropes to topple them amid cheers and applause. The San Francisco protesters targeted Grant, who led the Union Army during the Civil War, and Key because they had once owned slaves. Serra, an 18th century Roman Catholic priest who founded nine of California’s 21 Spanish missions, is blamed by many Native Americans for the destruction of several tribes and their culture. His statues have been defaced in California for years.

Elsewhere around the U.S., protesters in Washington, D.C. toppled a statue of aonfederate general Albert Pike, the only statue of a Confederate general in D.C. Also Friday, anti-racism messages were sprayed on the sculpture of Revolutionary War figure and slave owner Nathaniel Rochester, the founder of Rochester, New York. Protesters in North Carolina’s capital pulled down parts of a Confederate monument Friday night and hung one of the toppled statues from a light post. In Baltimore, a statue and memorial to George Washington in a city park were vandalized with red paint.

In New York, the American Museum of Natural History agreed to remove a prominent statue of Theodore Roosevelt from its entrance after years of objections that it symbolizes colonial expansion and racial discrimination. The bronze statue that has stood at the museum’s Central Park West entrance since 1940 depicts Roosevelt on horseback with a Native American man and an African man standing next to the horse. “The American Museum of Natural History has asked to remove the Theodore Roosevelt statue because it explicitly depicts Black and Indigenous people as subjugated and racially inferior,” de Blasio said in a written statement.

Violence in the CHOP, Mayor to Shut it Down

Pre-dawn violence erupted Saturday in the Seattle protest zone largely abandoned by police, where one person was fatally shot and another critically injured. A second non-fatal shooting occurred Sunday night. Authorities were investigating what led to the shootings in the area known as CHOP, which stands for “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest” zone. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Monday that officials would end the police-free zone known as the “Capitol Hill Organized Protest,” or “CHOP,” after the two recent shootings, one of which was deadly.

Private Security Firm Hired by Residents to Patrol CHOP

Homeland Patrol Division Security owner Steve Pansini explained Tuesday that he and his team were hired to protect homes and businesses inside Seattle’s so-called “CHOP” zone because residents have felt vulnerable and left unprotected by their city’s leadership. Pansini said that residents called upon the private security company because they were scared for their livelihoods and their safety.

  • The CEO of a billion-dollar investment firm said his company is getting out of Seattle due to the unrest. Smead Capital announced the decision to move to Phoenix’s Camelback Corridor.

Portland Violence

An initially peaceful protest in Portland, Oregon, against racial injustice turned violent early Sunday: Baton-wielding police used flash-bang grenades to disperse demonstrators throwing bottles, cans and rocks at sheriff’s deputies near downtown’s Justice Center. Portland police and Multnomah County sheriff’s deputies arrested several people after a group of protesters pulled down a fence cordoning off the center, tossed objects including fireworks at officers and ignored repeated warnings to disperse, police said in a statement. It said some people shined lasers into the eyes of deputies.

Noose in Black NASCAR Driver’s Stall, Teams Rally to Support Bubba

A noose was found in the garage stall of black driver Bubba Wallace at the NASCAR race in Alabama on Sunday, less than two weeks after he successfully pushed the auto racing series to ban the Confederate flag at its tracks and facilities. NASCAR said it will do everything possible to find who was responsible and “eliminate them from the sport. As we have stated unequivocally, there is no place for racism in NASCAR, and this act only strengthens our resolve to make the sport open and welcoming to all.” Wallace is the only fulltime black driver in NASCAR’s elite Cup Series. There were informal protests Saturday and Sunday over NASCAR banning the confederate flag, with cars and pickup trucks driving along nearby roads flying the flag and parading past the entrance to the superspeedway.

  • In an “extraordinary act of solidarity,” dozens of NASCAR drivers, followed by all their team members, pushed Bubba Wallace’s car to the front of the field Monday before the Talladega Superspeedway race.

Majority of Americans Say Juneteenth Should be a National Holiday

Just more than half of Americans said they knew about Juneteenth, a date commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S., and even more – two-thirds – support making it a holiday, according to The Harris Poll. Juneteenth marks the date – June 19, 1865 – when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and declared “that all persons held as slaves” had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation issued in September of 1862 and effective Jan. 1, 1863. Some enslavers ignored the order until the Union troops arrived to enforce it , according to Juneteenth.com.

  • Juneteenth makes a lot more sense than Columbus Day since Columbus was not the first person to ‘discover’ America. The Vikings did it well before Columbus and the Native Americans had already been here for a very long time.

Highest Number of Cases Worldwide Sunday, Mostly in North/South America

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported the largest single-day increase in new COVID-19 cases Sunday: over 183,000. Brazil and the U.S. showed the biggest jumps – at 54,771 and 36,617 cases, respectively. More than two-thirds of new deaths were also reported in the Americas. In the United States, the virus appears to be spreading across the West and South. At least 10 states, including Texas, California, Florida and Arizona, reported their highest weekly infection rates in recent days as 29 states logged increases. The national average is rising again after a month-long plateau while millions of Americans return to work, places of worship, restaurants and rallies.

  • Health authorities in South Korea said for the first time on Monday it is in the midst of a “second wave” of novel coronavirus infections around Seoul, driven by small but persistent outbreaks stemming from a holiday in May. New cases spiked with infections among young people who visited nightclubs and bars in Seoul over the holiday weekend.

Covid Death Rate Declining in U.S.

Even with the number of Covid cases climbing, the number of coronavirus-related daily deaths in the U.S. has fallen for the past four days. On June 19, the U.S. reported 770 deaths. The number of deaths reported Saturday totaled 733. Sunday’s daily death toll was logged at 690, Monday at 558 and Tuesday at 308 deaths. The disconnect between cases and deaths reflects the high numbers of people under the age of 45 now testing positive. They have a much lower chance of death than those over 65.

  • While the mainstream media continues to tout the number of Covid-19 cases, they purposely avoid headlining or even reporting the rapid decline in deaths. The media has been complicit in stoking fear in support of the New World Order (Deep World) agenda of establishing greater control of its citizens and instituting the one-world government of Revelation 13.

More States & Cities Requiring Face Masks

Cities in Florida and Arizona, where coronavirus cases are increasing, joined California and Michigan this week in introducing new requirements to wear face masks in public. Florida cities such as Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Tampa, St. Petersburg and the Florida Keys instituted face mask requirements when out in public. Although Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order at the beginning of June that banned local governments from imposing fines on people for not wearing masks, several cities, including Houston, began requiring businesses to mandate masks for employees and customers. Cities in Arizona are issuing face mask requirements as well, including Scottsdale. Phoenix’s city counsel will vote on the matter today.

Texas Closes Down a Dozen Bars for Covid Violations

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission suspended the alcohol licenses of a dozen bars in Texas for not following coronavirus protocols. The TABC started conducting undercover inspections of bars Friday to learn whether they were following guidelines. The guidelines include an indoor customer capacity of 50% for bars and 75% for restaurants along with social distancing of at least 6 feet between groups of customers

Covid-19 Trending Younger

Officials in states across the South are warning more young people are testing positive for coronavirus. The shifts in demographics have been recorded in parts of Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Texas and other states — many of which were some of the first to reopen. And while some officials have pointed to more widespread testing being done, others say the new cases stem from Americans failing to social distance or wear masks.

NYC Contact Tracing Not Working Well

A contact tracer in New York City described that tracer calls last between 30 and 50 minutes and have extremely detailed personal questions that sometimes turn off callers. The tracer, who spoke to CNN on the condition of anonymity Sunday, said that the questions include specifics about ethnicity, origin and sexuality. The contact tracer also said that some people refuse to identify the sick person they came in contact with.

There May Be No Immunity to COVID-19 Says New Study

A study conducted by Chinese and American researchers reveals that people who get COVID-19 may not develop antibodies that could offer them immunity in the future. “People are unlikely to produce long-lasting protective antibodies against the virus,” the researchers concluded after examining 23,000 blood samples from hospital workers in Wuhan, China, where the pandemic originated. If true, this dashes hopes that people who recover from COVID-19 could be issued “immune certificates,” which would allow them to work and travel freely.

Six Trump Rally Staffers Test Positive for Coronavirus

President Donald Trump’s campaign says six staff members helping set up for his Saturday night rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, have tested positive for coronavirus. The campaign’s communications director, Tim Murtaugh, said in a statement that “quarantine procedures” were immediately initiated and no staff member who tested positive would attend the event. He said no one who had immediate contact with those staffers would attend, either.

104 Shot, 14 Fatally, over Father’s Day Weekend in Chicago Despite Gun Control

Chicago saw its highest number of gun violence victims in a single weekend this year with 104 people shot across the city from Friday evening to Monday morning, 14 of them fatally. Five of those killed were minors. The weekend saw more shooting victims but less fatalities than the last weekend of May, when 85 people were shot, 24 of them fatally — which had been Chicago’s most deadly weekend in years.

  • Since the early 1970s, Chicago and its suburban municipalities have taken a national lead in enacting firearms control legislation. Citizens’ groups such as the Committee for Handgun Control, formed in 1973 and renamed Illinois Citizens for Handgun Control in 1982, have worked together with city politicians and police to pass some of the nation’s toughest gun control laws. Don’t seem to be working out very well.

NYC Shootings Also Rising Rapidly

The New York Police Department has reported a staggering increase in shooting numbers, and injuries, as officials warn there’s “a storm on the horizon.” An estimated 72 people were wounded in 53 shootings citywide from June 15 through Sunday night, an NYPD spokesperson said Monday morning. The department saw 14 shooting victims in 12 shootings for the same time period last year, data shows. An estimated 17 percent were cases in which the shooter or the victim was a parolee, a record high.

  • New York also has stricter gun control laws than most cities in the U.S., according to NPR.

Economic News

Employers added jobs in 46 states last month, evidence that the U.S. economy’s surprise hiring gain in May was spread broadly across the country – in states that began reopening their economies early as well as those that did so only later. Unemployment rates fell in 38 states, rose in three and were largely unchanged in nine, the Labor Department said Friday. The disparities ranged from Nevada, with the highest rate (25.3%), Hawaii (22.6%) and Michigan (21.2%) to Nebraska (5.2%, the lowest) and Utah (8.5%). The overall U.S. unemployment rate in May was a still-high 13.3%, a decline from 14.7% in April.

Since the Covid-19 shutdowns began, renters in 42 states and Washington DC have received protection from eviction under statewide moratoriums. But more than a third of those moratoriums have since been lifted and more are set to expire, leaving renters to come up with months of back pay or face losing their homes. This comes at a time when more than 45 million Americans have filed for first-time unemployment benefits. Experts say there is a coming “avalanche of evictions” which will have dire effects on local communities.

Apple is temporarily reclosing 11 stores in four states because of “current COVID-19 conditions.” The closures include all six Arizona stores, two on Florida’s West Coast, two in North Carolina and one in South Carolina. These states have experienced spikes in number of coronavirus cases.

Briggs & Stratton Corp. has chosen not to make a $6.7 million interest payment, but the company’s board of directors has voted to give executives and other key employees more than $5 million in cash retention awards, according to a filing with regulators. The board also restored the base salaries of executives and managers, effective July 1, from previously reduced levels in effect since April.

Israelis Oppose Trump’s Peace Plan, Will Not Give up Any Territory

The Rabbinical Alliance of America (RAA) circulated a strongly worded statement on Monday, rejecting in no uncertain terms U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan. “[The] grandiose ‘Deal of the Century’ being advocated by the Trump administration may call for the relinquishment of portions of Judea and Samaria for the purposes of making peace,” says the statement. “Without hesitation, the [RAA] vehemently in the strongest terms possible calls upon the Israeli government … not to acquiesce to the surrender of even one inch of our [holy land] for this Deal of The Century.”

  • Israel’s ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer said the current “two-state illusion … never happen.” Dermer wrote the op-ed in response to resistance in the U.S. and Europe to Israel’s plan to extend sovereignty over Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, where around half a million Israelis live.

U.N. Condemns Iran Over Nuclear Activity

Member states from the United Nations atomic agency board voted Friday to condemn Iran for failing to cooperate with its probe of Tehran’s nuclear activities, a move that gives the Trump administration new ammunition in its push to kill the Iranian nuclear deal. The resolution, the first since 2012 to call out Iran for not cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency, comes as the U.S. mounts a multi-front campaign to press Iran to come back to the negotiating table and agree a new, stricter and broader agreement on nuclear and other activities.

U.S. Seeks Indefinite Arms Embargo On Iran In UN Resolution

The U.S. has shared a draft resolution with members of the United Nations Security Council that would extend an arms embargo on Iran indefinitely, according to diplomats. With the ban on arms transactions with Iran set to expire in October under terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, the U.S. draft calls on all countries to “prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale, or transfer” of weapons to and from the Islamic Republic unless a Security Council committee approves it at least 30 days in advance on a case-by-case basis, according to a copy of the text obtained by Bloomberg News.

Saudis Say They Intercepted Missiles, Drones Launched By Iran-Backed Houthis

Saudi Arabia announced early on Tuesday that Houthi rebels in Yemen unleashed a ballistic missile and bomb-laden drone attack on various targets in the kingdom, including the cities of Najran and Jizan. According the Saudi statement its air defenses intercepted three ballistic missiles, and eight booby-trapped drones fired from Yemen. It appears that not all drones were intercepted but the statement did not say how many got through and where they might have exploded.

Drug Checks in German City Spark Riot/Vandalism

A drug check in Stuttgart, Germany, turned violent as hundreds of people started vandalizing shops and attacking police officers. Twenty people were arrested and four officers injured in the attacks, police said.  Authorities started the drug search as groups of people partied in a park late Saturday. Some people in the crowd became enraged, fighting police and damaging nearby shops. Baden-Württemberg’s Interior Minister Thomas Strobl said that the level of violence was “never seen before” in the city. He promised to prosecute rioters to the fullest extent of the law.

Earthquakes

The coast of southern Mexico was rattled by a powerful earthquake on Tuesday morning that triggered a tsunami alert for Pacific coastlines along Central America. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 7.4 and struck at 11:29 a.m. ET, 7 miles west of Santa María Zapotitlán, Mexico. The temblor had a depth of about 20 miles and was centered along the Pacific coast of Oaxaca state near the resort of Huatulco, about 400 miles from Mexico City. The quake caused buildings in Mexico City to sway, sending thousands into the streets. Mexico City is particularly vulnerable to earthquakes because its very soft and wet ground amplifies shaking. Power was knocked out in some areas in Mexico. The quake was felt in Guatemala and throughout south and central Mexico. Tsunami waves ranging from 3 to 9 feet are possible along some coasts of Mexico, while tsunami waves of up to 3 feet are possible for Ecuador. In the rest of Central America, tsunami waves of up to a foot were possible.

An earthquake in northern Oklahoma on Saturday night rattled the entire state, including in Tulsa just after President Trump finished his return to the campaign trail before thousands of supporters. The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 4.2 earthquake happened at 10:15 p.m. near Perry, roughly 80 miles west of Tulsa. The temblor was about 4.8 miles deep, with impacts being felt around the state. Thousands of earthquakes have been recorded in Oklahoma in recent years, with many linked to the underground injection of wastewater from oil and gas production. Regulators have directed producers to close some injection wells.

Volcanoes

Indonesia’s most active volcano erupted twice on Sunday morning, producing a huge cloud of gas and ash that reached a height of almost four miles. Mount Merapi, which is found on the border separating the Central Java and Special Region of Yogyakarta provinces in the country, is the most active of Indonesia’s 500 volcanoes, but it’s also one of the most active in the entire world. A number of villages located on the island of Java were covered in a thick blanket of ash and rumbling sounds were heard miles away from the volcano. No one was hurt following the eruption, although those living in and around the area have been told to remain at least 3km (1.8 miles) away from the volcano.

Wildfires

Communities across Arizona remained alert Monday morning as several major wildfires continued to burn. By Monday evening, crews secured 42% containment of the Bush Fire, which has burned 186,086 acres in the Tonto National Forest. Crews also struggled to contain the Bighorn Fire in the Catalina Mountains as the fire spread to more than 50,000 acres and was 19% contained. Meanwhile, in the northern and eastern reaches along Arizona’s border, the Mangum (69,277 acres, 28% contained) and Bringham (19,901 acres, 20% contained) fires continued to burn. The Central Fire started burning Saturday in the Tonto National Forest, drawing more fire crews to the Phoenix area. The fire is located east of New River on top of New River Mesa. By Monday morning, the Central Fire had burned 3,956 acres with no containment. The fire is moving to the north away from structures.

Weather

Verkhoyansk, Russia, just 6 miles north of the Arctic Circle, had a high of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit Saturday, Weather.com reports. That would be the highest temperature on record anywhere north of the Arctic Circle, and the northernmost 100-degree temperature ever recorded. It would beat Verkhoyansk’s previous high of 99.1 degrees, set in 1988. Siberia, typically one of the coldest places in the world, has been experiencing a heat wave since June 12, but it’s not just this month that’s been hotter than usual in Russia—it experienced its warmest-ever January through May period this year as well. The Arctic is warming at a rate more than double that of the rest of the world.

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

Signs of the Times (6/19/20)

June 19, 2020

Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.  (Isaiah 41:10)

Statistics Show that Racial Disparities Run Deep in America

Black people have long suffered from persistent inequality in the United States due to centuries of racism, discrimination and the long-lasting effects of slavery. This has created conditions that make it difficult for Black Americans to get ahead. Here are some of the latest statistics from the USA TODAY:

  • Life expectancy is 6.6 years shorter for black men than white men, and 2.7 years shorter for black women.
  • Only 79% of blacks finish high school on time versus 89% for blacks.
  • Just 40% of blacks graduate from 4-year colleges vs. 64% for whites.
  • Black unemployment stands at 16.8% for blacks vs. 12.4% for whites.
  • Median black household income is $40,258 for blacks vs. $68,145 for whites.
  • The poverty rate for blacks is 21.2% vs. 8.7% for whites.
  • Only 44% of blacks own their own home vs. 73.7% of whites.
  • Blacks represent 17.7% of U.S. population, but 23% of Covid-19 deaths.
  • More than 40 percent of black business owners reported they weren’t working in April, compared to 17 percent of white business owners.

Poll Shows Americans Not in Favor of Reparations

The majority of Americans said they oppose changing the name of military bases carrying the names of Confederate leaders, while another majority said they are against reparations for slavery in a new poll by ABC/Ipsos. The survey found that 56% are against renaming military bases that currently bear the name of Confederate leaders, although 71% of Democrats support changing the names, while only 13% of Republicans and 40% of independents are in favor. In addition, 73% said they oppose the federal government paying black Americans whose ancestors were slaves, with 54% of Democrats are in favor of reparations, while 94% of Republicans and 82% of independents are against the practice.

  • Overall, 63% said they support a ban on police officers using chokeholds.

Senate Republicans Unveil ‘Justice Act’ for Police Reform

Senate Republicans on Wednesday unveiled their “Justice Act” police reform legislation to hold officers accountable with an enhanced use-of-force database, pursue restrictions on chokeholds and create new commissions to study law enforcement and race. Sen. Tim Scott, the lone African-American GOP senator, spearheaded the legislation. He framed the legislation as a bridge between law enforcement and communities of color. “The answer to the question of which side do you support is ‘I support America,'” Scott, R-S.C. said, “And if you support America you support restoring the confidence that communities of color have in institutions of authority. If you support America, that means you know that the overwhelming number of officers in this nation want to do their job, go home to their family. It is not a binary choice. This legislation encompasses that spirit.”

  • Critics argue that this legislation doesn’t ban chokeholds, just discourages their use.

Conflicting Reports from Inside Seattle’s CHOP District

Documentary filmmaker Ami Horowitz went to Seattle’s Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) area recently and shared his interaction with Jaiden Grayson and other leaders of the movement. “Every day that I show up here, I’m not here to peacefully protest,” Grayson told the “U.N. Me” filmmaker, who also embedded himself in Minneapolis protests earlier this month. “I’m here to disrupt until my demands are met,” Grayson continued. “You cannot rebuild until you break it all the way down.” Meanwhile, Eric Scigliano, of Politico interviewed several people in the CHOP area, with one unarmed border guard who said, “I’d seen what the media said,” he explained. “I came out to see what it was like.” He was “surprised” how mellow it all was. “Some of the nicest people I’ve seen have been here.” The barriers, other guards explained, were there to stop cars from driving into the occupied streets—a real fear. Last Sunday, a motorist drove into the protest at that very intersection and shot a man point-blank who tried to make him stop.” Detective Patrick Michaud, a Seattle Police spokesman, says the department has received no 911 calls or other complaints about extortion, intimidation, guns or checkpoint barriers in the CHOP.

Anarchists Who Firebombed Police Vehicles Arrested

Two lawyers Urooj Rahman, 31, and Colinford Mattis, 32, are accused of throwing a Molotov cocktail at a parked NYPD vehicle during the riots in late May in Brooklyn. They fled and when they were caught, explosive materials were found in their car. The federal government brought seven charges each against the pair, including “the use of explosives, arson, use of explosives to commit a felony, arson conspiracy, use of a destructive device, civil disorder, and making or possessing a destructive device.” U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said, “Such criminal acts should never be confused with legitimate protest. Those who carry out attacks on NYPD Officers or vehicles are not protesters, they are criminals, and they will be treated as such.”

Black State Department Official Resigns in Protest of Trump’s Racial Policies

The five-paragraph resignation letter submitted Thursday by Mary Elizabeth Taylor, the assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, states, “Moments of upheaval can change you, shift the trajectory of your life, and mold your character. The President’s comments and actions surrounding racial injustice and Black Americans cut sharply against my core values and convictions.” Taylor was the administration’s highest-ranking African American and an aide who had been viewed as both loyal and effective in serving his presidency.

Atlanta Police Catch the “Blue Flu”

Atlanta was hit by a bad case of the “blue flu” Wednesday evening. The Atlanta Police Department acknowledged that many officers were not reporting for duty, the evening after a policeman was charged with capital murder for shooting Rayshard Brooks, a fleeing felon who’d grabbed his Taser and fired it.

Record Number of Worldwide Coronavirus Cases Thursday

More than 150,000 new coronavirus cases were reported to the World Health Organization yesterday — “the most in a single day so far,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a Friday briefing. Most of these, he said, were occurring in the “Americas”.

Coronavirus Spiking in 23 States

Twenty-three states are seeing an upward trend in new coronavirus cases this week. Ten states saw a record number of new Covid-19 cases – Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, and Texas. 18 states are seeing a downward trend while eight states are seeing steady numbers of newly reported cases with one holding steady.

Record Number of Daily Cases in California, Prompts Facemask Order

The number of new coronavirus cases for a single day in California reached new heights on Wednesday, rising above 4,000 for the first time. The 4,134 cases exceeded the previous high of 3,683 cases last Friday. Meanwhile, the state is moving into Stage 3 of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s four-stage reopening plan. Gov. Newsom on Thursday issued an order requiring all residents of the state to cover their face during most public outings.

Record Number of Cases in Arizona, Facemasks Left up to Local Officials

Arizona reported 3,246 new cases Friday, up from 2,519 the day before, and previous peaks of 2,393 on 6/18 and 1654 on 6/12. The highest daily total in May was 790 on 5/30. Hospitalizations have also set new records, straining capacity in the Phoenix, Tucson and Yuma areas. Fortunately, the number of daily deaths has remained relatively flat with the 7-day average at 25 Friday, down from 28 on 5/7, but up from a low of 15 on 6/10. Governor Ducey left it up to local officials to decide whether to require facemasks. The Prescott quad-city area decided not to order the wearing of facemasks.

Court Refuses to Block Trump Rally after Record Number of Cases

Oklahoma cases of COVID-19 rose by 450 on Thursday, blowing past the record 259 daily cases reported on Wednesday, as the surge of infections continued ahead of a massive rally for President Donald Trump and demonstrations set for this weekend in Tulsa. The mayor of Tulsa, Oklahoma, imposed a curfew Thursday, prompting officers to move supporters who had been camping out in front of the arena. Mayor Bynum, a Republican, also declared a civil emergency and said he would establish a “federal exclusion zone” in the vicinity of the rally.

  • The Supreme Court rejected legal efforts to stop Trump’s Tulsa rally over health concerns. Residents and businesses filed the lawsuit over concerns that President Trump’s campaign rally, expected to draw 19,000 people to the BOK Center in Tulsa, could worsen the pandemic in the city.
  • The surge in COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma is being driven largely by increases among younger people, according to state Health Department figures that show 54% of the new cases in the past two weeks were people 35 and younger.

Record Number of Corona Cases Friday in Florida, Average Age of 37

Florida reported 3,822 new cases of coronavirus Friday, another new daily record. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the median age range for coronavirus cases in the past few weeks is 37. DeSantis said they expect the median age to continue to plunge as they continue to test: Most of the younger cases are not symptomatic, DeSantis said.

Youth Only Half as Likely to Get Coronavirus than Adults, Milder Too

Children and teenagers are only half as likely to get infected with the coronavirus as adults, and if they do get it, they usually don’t develop clinical symptoms of covid-19, says a new study by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Covid-19 12 Times More Deadly with Diabetes and/or Heart Disease

Coronavirus has been 12 times more deadly for people with underlying conditions like diabetes and heart disease than otherwise healthy patients, new research from the CDC shows. And people with chronic issues have been hospitalized six times as often.

NYC Sees Three Times More Heart Attacks This Spring

New Yorkers had three times more heart attacks during the COVID-19 surge this spring, than in a typical year and they were far more likely to die from them, according a study published Friday. The study tracked 911 calls in New York City from March 1, when the city reported its first case of COVID-19, through April 25. COVID-19 clearly played a role in these heart attacks but exactly what role isn’t clear, because few autopsies or COVID-19 tests were performed on the deceased.

  • Louisville’s mayor says Metro Police is preparing to terminate Officer Brett Hankison, one of three officers to fire weapons in March at Breonna Taylor’s apartment, killing her.
  • Kaiser Health News and USA TODAY found that some officers appear to have violated their department’s own rules when they fired “less lethal” projectiles at protesters who were for the most part peacefully assembled.

Slowing COVID-19 Is Escalating Other Diseases

The consequences of trying to contain the coronavirus globally have been devastating. According to The New York Times, this has led to an uptick of illnesses and death from other diseases because many of the poorest countries stopped their inoculation programs. According to Science Mag over 13.5 million people have missed vaccinations for polio, measles, yellow fever and other diseases since the suspensions began. Diphtheria is now rising up in Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Measles is flaring up around the world. Of the 29 countries that suspended measles inoculations because of the pandemic, 18 are reporting outbreaks. Chibuzo Okonto, president of Doctors Without Borders in West and Central Africa said that the measles epidemic “will kill more children than COVID-19,”

Warnings of Meat Shortage Unfounded

Americans were never at risk of a severe meat shortage, a USA TODAY investigation found, based on an analysis of U.S. Department of Agriculture data and interviews with meat industry analysts. Instead, some critics say, the fear was used to justify the executive order, which provided some liability protection for meatpacking plants. It also created a uniform system of rules, set by the federal government, to keep plants open rather than leave the closure of meatpacking plants to a patchwork of state and local health authorities. Red meat and poultry products in cold storage actually grew by about 40 million pounds from March to April, reaching 2.5 billion pounds, USDA data show.

Most Churches Choose Not to Return to In-Person Services

A new survey says that most churches have not returned to in-person services, and many are uncertain about the future of worship gatherings. The survey by the Wheaton Billy Graham Center’s Send Institute, Exponential, and the Association of Related Churches, found that 67% of churches have chosen not to return yet to in-person services. Of the 33 percent of churches who reported that they have returned to in-person gatherings, only about half of the congregation is attending.

Supreme Court Blocks Trump, Upholds DACA Program

The Supreme Court blocked the Trump administration Thursday from ending a program that allows nearly 700,000 young, undocumented immigrants to live and work in the United States without fear of deportation. Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the majority opinion, called the Department of Homeland Security’s action “arbitrary and capricious” and therefore unlawful. The ruling was 5-4, with the court’s four liberal justices agreeing and the four more conservative justices in dissent. Justice Clarence Thomas ripped his colleagues for blocking President Trump’s request to end the DACA program. “Today’s decision must be recognized for what it is: an effort to avoid a politically controversial but legally correct decision,” Thomas wrote in his dissent.

  • It was the second major ruling this week in which the conservative court dealt a setback to the Trump administration. On Monday, it ruled 6-3 in an opinion written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, a Trump appointee, that the LGBTQ community is protected under a federal law banning sex discrimination in the workplace. Conservatives warned that this will be the basis for further attacks on religious liberty.

Economic News

About 1.5 million workers filed applications for unemployment insurance for the first time last week, the Labor Department said Thursday. That pushes the running tally of those who have made initial claims over the past 13 weeks to  45.7 million. The count of 1.5 million is down slightly from 1.57 million the prior week and marks the 11th straight weekly decline since first-time claims peaked at 6.9 million at the end of March. Initial claims remain high in part because many states continue to work through a large backlog. The weekly tallies are all far higher than the previous record of 695,000 claims during a deep recession in October 1982.

Americans have skipped payments on more than 100 million student loans, auto loans and other forms of debt since the coronavirus hit the U.S. The number of accounts that enrolled in deferment, forbearance or some other type of relief since March 1 and remain in such a state rose to 106 million at the end of May, triple the number at the end of April, according to credit-reporting firm TransUnion.

In an effort to keep homeowners and renters in their homes as they navigate the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, federal foreclosure and eviction moratoriums are being extended for two more months.

More Stimulus Money for UK

The Bank of England is throwing more money at the British economy as the country tries to stave off its worst downturn in more than 300 years. The Bank of England’s purchases of government bonds are helping the UK government to finance recovery efforts as it borrows record amounts. The move adds to the trillions of dollars in stimulus already pledged by central banks around the world as policymakers take unprecedented steps to tackle the global recession, falling inflation and extreme unemployment stemming from the pandemic. UK GDP contracted by more than 20% in April, a record, following a 6% decline in March. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warned last week that the United Kingdom would suffer the worst downturn of any major economy this year.

IDF Hammers Hamas Following Gaza Rocket Attack

On Monday night, one of Gaza’s multiple terror groups shot a rocket at Israel, which failed to harm civilians or destroy property. In response, IDF planes launched a counter strike, pounding positions belonging to Hamas, which has brutally ruled the coastal enclave for a decade and a half. Israeli jets struck underground Hamas facilities in the southern Gaza Strip. Simultaneously, IDF tanks hammered the terror group’s posts near the border. Israel holds Hamas responsible for all rocket fire emanating from the Gaza Strip, a territory that the terror group continues to hold hostage, exacting payments from Qatar while Iran bankrolls the strip’s Islamic factions.

Top Arab Diplomat Calls for Rapport with Israel

The United Arab Emirates can work with Israel on some areas, including fighting the new coronavirus and on technology, while still having political differences with the state, a senior official said on Tuesday. “Can I have a political disagreement with Israel but at the same time try and bridge other areas of the relationship? I think I can and I think this is fundamentally where we are,” said Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash, who has previously said the Arab decision not to have contact with Israel was wrong. His question-and-answer session was described as “historic” by the American Jewish Committee advocacy group.

Jordan Worried About Becoming Palestinian State

King Abdullah of Jordan is worried that Israel’s planned extension of sovereignty over the strategic Jordan Valley and Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria will turn his kingdom into a “Palestinian state.” This week, the monarch lobbied members of Congress to try and get Israel to back down. “Many Jordanians view it [annexation] as a big step in the process of trying to turn Jordan into Palestine,” Robert Satloff of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said. Jordan is home to over two million people who call themselves “Palestinians.” If this community launched a campaign of unrest and terror in response to Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, it would wreak havoc in Jordan.

Mali Shaken by Jihadist Attack on Soldiers

At least 24 Malian soldiers have been killed in an ambush near the border with Mauritania, in an apparent revenge attack for the assassination of a top jihadi leader. The soldiers were patrolling close to the Wagadou forest, a known hideout for jihadist groups, on June 14. An army spokesperson said that 8 soldiers had survived the assault. A further thirty-two on the patrol are missing. Armed forces in the Sahel region are known to undercount the death toll of attacks to preserve troop morale. One expert told The Telegraph that the attack was carried out by Katiba Macina, a jihadist group allied to Al Qaeda which has been wreaking havoc over large parts of central Mali.

Wildfires

Thirty-seven large wildfires have scorched more than 450 square miles of land across nine states, most of them fueled by persistent hot, dry, windy weather. Three of the most notable are burning in Arizona, where more evacuation notices were issued Thursday and relief from the weather is still at least a couple of weeks away.

  • The Bush Fire burning northeast of Mesa, Arizona, has expanded to more than 180 square miles and is only 5% contained as of Friday morning. More than 1,500 residents in the Apache Lake, Sunflower, Punkin Center and Tonto Basin communities were ordered to evacuate their homes Wednesday. More evacuation orders were issued Thursday, including the communities of Brownsville, Jake’s Corner, Slate Creek and Pioneer Pass. Other area residents were alerted to be ready to go at any time.
  • The Mangum Fire jumped in size again to 88 square miles. It was only 3% contained as of Thursday night. The fire is in the Kaibab National Forest north of the Grand Canyon. The Arizona Department of Transportation closed Highway 89A from Marble Canyon to Fredonia and Highway 67 to the Grand Canyon. The town of Jacob Lake has been evacuated.
  • The Bighorn Fire has burned more than 48 square miles and was 40% contained as of Friday morning. A lightning strike started the fire on June 5. Residents of Mt. Lemmon and Mt. Bigelow in the hills north of Tucson were told to evacuate Tuesday afternoon as the Bighorn Fire burned toward them.

 

God is Not Prejudiced, Nor Should We Be

June 18, 2020

The Bible is very clear that God has no bias or prejudice against any people group. If we do have prejudice in our hearts, we are not a True Christian:

If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? (1John 4:20)

 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)

There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all. (Colossians 3:11)

For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1Samuel 16:7b)

My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. (James 2:1)

Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. (Acts 10:34)

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-36)

 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10)