Millionth Bible Sent to Closed Nations

A new report from Voice of the Martyrs says the millionth Bible dispatched under its Bibles Unbound program has been sent by a Texas woman sponsoring the effort to a private address in China. The organization’s program was started in 2006 to let Christians in free parts of the world send Bibles directly to individuals in restricted nations such as North Korea, China and Columbia. In the 42 months of operations, the program has shipped about 800 Bibles per day – about 24,000 per month. The Bibles Unbound effort is based on a very simple fact. While a truckload or container of Bibles can be spotted and stopped, the same amount of Bibles, wrapped and mailed individually, disappears into even a nation that restricts access to religious books. Christians, students, missionaries and others working within the restricted nations collect addresses, channeling them into the program for sponsors to use.

Focus on the Family Faces ‘Serious’ Shortfall

A “serious budget shortfall” at Focus on the Family (www.focusonthefamily.com) has prompted the conservative Christian group to issue a special fundraising plea, and contributed to a decision to cede control of its contentious “Love Won Out” conferences about homosexuality to another religious organization. Focus on the Family, founded by child psychologist James Dobson, is on pace to fall $6 million short of a $138 million budget for the fiscal year that began last October. Jim Daly, president and CEO of the Colorado-based evangelical ministry, explained the challenges in a letter to approximately 800,000 donors. Last fall, budget problems prompted Focus on the Family to eliminate more than 200 positions.

Pentagon Wants to Post Almost 400,000 Military Personnel in U.S.

The Pentagon has approached Congress to grant the Secretary of Defense the authority to post almost 400,000 military personnel throughout the United States in times of emergency or a major disaster. This request has already occasioned a dispute with the nation’s governors. And it raises the prospect of U.S. military personnel patrolling the streets of the United States, in conflict with the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. In June, the U.S. Northern Command distributed a “Congressional Fact Sheet” entitled “Legislative Proposal for Activation of Federal Reserve Forces for Disasters.” That proposal would amend current law, thereby “authorizing the Secretary of Defense to order any unit or member of the Army Reserve, Air Force Reserve, Navy Reserve, and the Marine Corps Reserve, to active duty for a major disaster or emergency.” The governors were not happy about this proposal, since they want to maintain control of their own National Guard forces, as well as military personnel acting in a domestic capacity in their states.

  • Big Brother wants more and more control, and will manufacture artificial “crises” (think swine flu) to bolster its case

Obama may Drop Public Option in Health Care

The Obama administration signaled Sunday it may drop the idea of a publicly financed insurance option as part of a health care compromise. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the public option “is not the essential element.” She said the administration would consider a bill that includes the creation of a not-for-profit insurance cooperative as an alternative to a government-run plan. “What’s important is choice and competition,” Sebelius said on CNN‘s State of the Union. Taking the public option off the table could lead to friction between President Obama and liberal Democrats who see it as the best way to get to universal coverage. “Without the public option, we’ll have the same number of people uninsured,” said Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, also speaking on CNN. Former Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean, a leading figure in the liberal wing of his party, said Monday he doubts there can be meaningful health care reform without a direct government role.

Cancer Deaths Declining

Cancer death rates are declining, especially among younger people, new research shows. And while cancer is poised to become the number one killer in the United States, topping heart disease, that is because deaths from heart disease have decreased faster than for cancer. Everyone born in the last 60 years has been reaping the benefits of efforts in prevention research and treatment research and early detection research,” said Dr. Eric Kort, lead author of a study appearing in the Aug. 15 issue of Cancer Research. The youngest age group showed the most improvement, with a 25.9% decline in death rates, while death rates in the older age groups decreased a respectable 6.8%. The difference likely reflects early advances in cancer treatment affecting malignancies, such as childhood leukemia, seen in younger people. People quitting smoking has had an enormous impact.

Swine Flu Vaccine Triggers Nerve Disease?

Two letters from the U.K.’s Health Protection Agency to top neurologists, sent on the eve of a massive vaccination program against the H1N1, or swine flu, virus and leaked to a British newspaper, warn doctors to watch for an increase in cases of a fatal brain disorder which could be triggered by the vaccine. Guillain-Barre Syndrome attacks the lining of the nerves, causing paralysis and inability to breathe, and can be fatal, London’s Mail on Sunday reported. The first round of immunizations is scheduled for October and is set to treat 13 million people, giving priority to “everyone aged six months to 65 with an underlying health problem, pregnant women and health professionals.” Already, concerns have been raised over insufficient testing and lack of knowledge about the new vaccine’s effect on children. The HPA letters, sent to 600 neurologists, cite the use of a similar swine flu vaccine in the U.S. in 1976 that caused more fatalities than the influenza.

  • Steer clear of this vaccine. Swine flu has a very low fatality rate.

Deported Felons Sneak Back Across Border

The goal of the U.S. government’s expanding program to rid the country of foreign-born criminals is clear: Find illegal immigrants who commit violent crimes and deport them so they no longer pose a threat to the public. The government has successfully deported hundreds of thousands of foreign-born criminals in recent years. But a significant number have come back again, illegally, to the United States, often to commit more crimes, according to government data. There are no broad government statistics on how many deported criminals re-enter the United States illegally, but arrests by Border Patrol agents in the Tucson region alone suggest the number is high. In fiscal year 2008, 16 percent of the 317,696 immigrants arrested by agents in Tucson, one of nine sectors on the U.S.-Mexican border, were charged with felony counts of re-entering illegally. The government doesn’t have the resources to prosecute all of them, and in the past most were simply just deported again.

57% Don’t See Stimulus Working

Six months after President Obama launched a $787 billion plan to right the nation’s economy, a majority of Americans think the avalanche of new federal aid has cost too much and done too little to end the recession. A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll found 57% of adults say the stimulus package is having no impact on the economy or making it worse. Even more —60% — doubt that the stimulus plan will help the economy in the years ahead, and only 18% say it has done anything to help improve their personal situation. That skepticism underscores the challenge Obama faces in trying to convince the public that the stimulus has helped turn the economy around. It also could complicate the administration’s plans to overhaul the nation’s health care system. The administration declined to comment on the poll results.

Unemployed in Arizona Not Receiving Checks

Tens of thousands of struggling Arizonans have been stuck in limbo trying to collect unemployment. And the waiting is painful. They’re unable to find jobs. Their savings are gone. They can’t pay bills. People have lost homes, apartments and vehicles. They’ve resorted to hocking valuables and skipping meals. The Arizona Department of Economic Security manages unemployment benefits, and it has been overwhelmed by the worst recession in decades. Department officials are apologetic and say the recession is to blame. Operations are jammed with new and continuing claims, phone lines are flooded each day, and delays in paying out money are among the worst in the country. The U.S. Department of Labor mandates that at least 87 percent of first-time payouts should reach people in 14 to 21 days. In the past year, Arizona met that deadline 68 percent of the time. Thousands of first-time filers in the state have waited months to receive their funds.

Economic News

Regulators on Friday shut down Dwelling House Savings and Loan Association, a small bank in Pennsylvania, boosting to 73 the number of federally insured banks that have failed this year, compared with 25 last year and three in 2007.

N. Korea Lifting Border Restrictions

North Korea agreed Monday to lift border restrictions with South Korea to allow reunions of separated families and restart stalled tourism ventures in its latest gesture of conciliation toward Seoul after nearly 18 months of rising tensions. The North, however, said in a separate statement it was putting its army on “special alert” because of South Korea’s joint military drills with the United States this week, a sign that tension between the rival countries is still running high.

Afghanistan

A suicide car bomb exploded Saturday outside the main gate of NATO’s headquarters less than a week before presidential elections, killing seven and wounding 91 in the biggest attack in the Afghan capital in six months. The bomber evaded several rings of Afghan police and detonated his explosives at the doorstep to the international military headquarters, an assault possibly aimed at sending the message that the Taliban can attack anywhere as Afghans gear up for their second-ever direct presidential election. Militants have warned Afghans not to vote and have threatened to attack voting sites.

Gaza

Islamic radicals from an al-Qaeda-inspired group battled Hamas security in the Gaza Strip Friday in shootouts that killed at least 13 people. The fighting began when Hamas forces surrounded a mosque in the southern Gaza town of Rafah where about 100 members of Jund Ansar Allah, or the Soldiers of the Companions of God, were holed up, including some armed with suicide belts and rifles. The confrontation was triggered when the leader of the group defied Gaza’s Hamas rulers by declaring in a Friday prayer sermon that the territory was an Islamic emirate. Jund Ansar Allah and a number of other small, shadowy radical groups seek to enforce an even stricter version of Islamic law in Gaza and have criticized Hamas for not doing so. They are also upset that the Hamas regime has honored a cease-fire with Israel for the past seven months.

  • Just as the Bible says of Ishmael’s descendents, Islamic terrorist groups also fight among themselves

Earthquakes

A magnitude-6.8 earthquake hit between Japan‘s southernmost islands and the coast of Taiwan on Monday, briefly prompting a tsunami warning, the Japanese Meteorological Agency said. The quake struck at 8:06 p.m. ET Sunday about 80 miles southwest of Ishigaki. The Japanese resort island is about 125 miles east of Taiwan and some 1,000 miles south of Tokyo. The quake struck at a depth of about six miles, the agency said. There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties on the island, which has a population of 40,000.

A series of earthquakes, ranging in magnitude from 6.7 to 4.7, struck off the western coast of Indonesia’s Sumatra Island on Sunday, the U.S. Geological Survey said. At least seven people were injured and one building collapsed in Padang City in West Sumatra. The quakes were recorded in the Kepulauan Mentawai region, a chain of islands popular with surfers.

Wildfires

There have been nearly 62,000 wildfires across the USA this year. No state has been hotter than Texas. A withering, two-year drought in central and southern Texas has sparked a wildfire season that has already destroyed the most structures in state history. The state has recorded more than twice as many wildfires — 13,083 — as the second-most-active state, California with 5,749, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. The fires have scorched more than 660,000 acres in Texas. Texas’ fires have burned menacingly near some of the state’s most populated cities, such as Dallas, Austin and San Antonio.

Hot, dry winds and high temperatures continued to fan wildfires across California Sunday, pushing firefighters into rugged terrain to contain the flames even as they watch for new blazes. A fire near the Santa Cruz mountain communities of Swanton and Bonny Doon was about 50% contained Sunday, after burning 10 square miles since Wednesday and leading to mandatory evacuations of about 2,400 residents. Santa Cruz’s Lockheed Fire was among 11 burning in the state. A state of emergency was declared in the county, while other blazes forced evacuations and knocked out power in other parts of the state. A fire in Yuba County, north of Sacramento, had burned more than 3 square miles after jumping the Yuba River

Weather

Tropical Storm Claudette made landfall on the Florida Panhandle near Fort Walton Beach early Monday, making it the first named storm to hit the U.S. mainland this year. Even before its arrival, Claudette dumped heavy rains in some areas Sunday. But it was not expected to cause significant flooding or wind damage. Claudette’s maximum sustained winds upon making landfall were near 50 mph.

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