Final Bible Translations in Process

An international ministry has announced a new aggressive goal to launch translation efforts in the remaining regions around the world that yet to have the Bible in those languages. Wycliffe Bible Translators USA, the world’s largest Bible-translation organization, hopes to begin the remaining projects by 2025. When translations of God’s Word began nearly 70 years ago, almost 500 languages in the Western hemisphere had no writing, grammar, or dictionary, let alone a Bible translation. Today, more than 450 of those language development and scripture-translation projects are complete or under way, leaving fewer than 50 scripture translations to launch. Paul Edwards, executive director of Wycliffe’s Last Languages Campaign”It’s the greatest period of Bible translation that the world has ever seen,” he states. “In 1999 we estimated it was going to take us 150 years — now we think within 15 years we will have started the final remaining Bible translations.”, says more than 1,000 languages have been translated in the past decade.

God Said, “I Will Shake All Nations”

The Jerusalem Prayer Team notes that, “The prophet Haggai described the day we’re living in when he declared in Chapter 2, verse 7, ‘And I will shake all nations., Hebrews 12:27 says it like this: ‘God’s voice shook the earth … yet once more, I will shake not only the earth but the heavens, signifying that all those things that can be shaken … until those things which cannot be shaken will remain.’ We are living in perilous times as described in 2 Timothy 3:1: ‘This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.’ But the prophet Daniel reminds us that: ‘The people who do know their God shall be strong and do exploits.’ (Daniel 22:32) In the midst of the shaking, God promises grace and strength and hope.

  • End-time shaking has begun in earnest and will accelerate over the next few years

Japan Raises Severity of Nuclear Accident

The Japanese government acknowledged Friday that it was overwhelmed by the scale of last week’s twin natural disasters, slowing the response to the nuclear crisis that was triggered by the earthquake and tsunami that left at least 10,000 people dead. The admission came as Japan welcomed U.S. help in stabilizing its overheated, radiation-leaking nuclear complex, and reclassified the rating of the nuclear accident from Level 4 to Level 5 on a seven-level international scale, putting it on a par with the 1979 Three Mile Island accident. Nuclear experts have been saying for days that Japan was underplaying the crisis’ severity. At the stricken complex, military fire trucks sprayed the reactor units for a second day, with tons of water arcing over the facility in desperate attempts to prevent the fuel from overheating and spewing dangerous levels of radiation.

Teams of ‘Heroes’ Fight to Contain Nuclear Reactors

Emergency workers shuttled into and out of Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant today as they scrambled to contain melting nuclear cores and even wider releases of dangerous radiation. After temporarily evacuating the plant for five hours in the face of high radiation, the 180 workers, in shifts of 50 at a time, resumed pumping seawater into the plant’s three damaged reactors. The workers were hailed as heroes in Japan. “This is like suicide fighters in a war,” said Keiichi Nakagawa, associate professor of the Department of Radiology at University of Tokyo Hospital.

Foreigners Flee Japan as Nuclear Crisis Worsens

Several governments, including Australia, France and China, have advised citizens to leave Tokyo and quake-hit areas, or have taken steps to evacuate them. The State Department late Wednesday authorized a voluntary evacuation of family members and dependents of U.S. personnel in Tokyo and Yokohama that affects some 600 people. It also issued a warning to Americans to avoid travel to Japan and said U.S. citizens in the country should consider leaving. Senior State Department official Patrick Kennedy said chartered planes would help private American citizens wishing to leave. He said people faced less risk in southern Japan, but warned that changing weather could raise radiation levels elsewhere in the coming days.

National Guard Troops to Leave Mexico Border in June

National Guard troops that have helped beef up security along the southwestern border since last summer will leave as planned by the second week of June, the commander of the Arizona Guard told a House panel Tuesday. Maj. Gen. Hugo Salazar, adjutant general of the Guard in the state, said that the mission has gone well and that his troops have helped the Department of Homeland Security monitor the border and gather intelligence against the transnational crime cartels that smuggle drugs, weapons and cash across the border. Matt Chandler, a spokesman for Homeland Security, said Tuesday that soldiers have helped seize over 14,000 pounds of drugs and apprehend 7,000 illegal immigrants. He said the southwestern border today has more enforcement manpower and technology than ever, much of which has been added while the National Guard has been assigned there.

Gov. Jan Brewer, who called for the National Guard deployment last summer and has sued the federal government for not enforcing immigration laws, said Tuesday that she was disappointed that the deployment was ending on schedule. “It’s inexcusable and inexplicable to consider withdrawal of National Guard troops from our southern border at a time when cartel violence continues and the security of the border region remains under threat from drug and human smugglers,” she said. “Unfortunately, this appears to be further evidence that the White House is not fully committed to devoting the manpower and resources necessary to secure the border.”

  • This is ‘transparent’ all right. Transparently idiotic. The border is as volatile as ever and will only get worse while the National Guard troops go home to polish their rifles.

Ariz. Senate Rejects Illegal Immigration Bills

The Arizona Senate soundly defeated five bills aimed at illegal immigration on Thursday in a marked departure from last year, when enactment of a tough local enforcement measure put the state at the heart of a fierce national debate over the issue. Majority Republicans were split in their votes on the defeated bills, which included two measures intended to force a U.S. Supreme Court ruling against automatic citizenship for U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants. The other three dealt with health care, public services and everyday activities such as driving. With business leaders urging lawmakers to put the issue aside to avoid damaging the still-ailing economy, “it’s time for us to take a timeout,” said Republican Sen. John McComish. “It’s something that the people don’t want us to be focusing on.” Critics also said the bills rejected Thursday were over-reaching and flawed. Supporters of the measures voiced frustration and said there could be political fallout for lawmakers who voted against them.

  • What “people” don’t want Arizona to focus on illegal immigration? Californians? Obama? Liberals? This is still a serious problem for Arizona that continues to need focus and solutions.

Top Lawmaker Protests Homeland ‘Whistle-Blower’ Demotion

The Homeland Security Department demoted a senior career employee who confidentially complained to the inspector general that political appointees were improperly interfering with requests for federal records by journalists and watchdog groups. The new Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee investigating those practices told the Obama administration that the decision “appeared to be an act of retaliation” and warned, “Obstructing a congressional investigation is a crime.” Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., urged Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to remind employees about their rights and whistle-blower protections and “make DHS managers aware of the consequences for retaliation against witnesses who furnish information to Congress.”

  • Same old political games. Self-preservation prized above all things honest and decent.

Death Rate Down, Life Expectancy Up in U.S.

Children born today can expect to live longer than ever in U.S. history, according to government data released Wednesday. Life expectancy at birth increased to 78.2 years in 2009, up from 78 years in 2008. Death rates for 10 of the 15 leading causes of death decreased significantly between 2008 and 2009, including for heart disease, cancer and stroke. For white males, life expectancy is 75.7 years; for white females, 80.6. For black American males, life expectancy is 70.9 years; for females, 77.4 years. Infant mortality in the U.S. hit a record low in 2009 at 6.42 infant deaths for every 1,000 live births. This is a 2.6% decline from 6.59 deaths per 1,000 births in 2008. The death rate for the U.S. population fell for the 10th year in a row to an all-time low of 741 deaths per 100,000 in 2009. This is down from 758.7 deaths in 2008. Death rates declined for heart disease (down 3.7%), cancer (1.1%), chronic lower respiratory diseases (4.1%), stroke (4.2%), accidents (4.1%), Alzheimer’s disease (4.1%), diabetes (4.1%), influenza and pneumonia (4.7%), septicemia (1.8%) and homicide (6.8%).

Medicinal Marijuana Raids in Montana Stun Advocates

Federal agencies conducted 26 raids on medical marijuana facilities in 13 Montana cities this week, as agents seized thousands of marijuana plants and froze about $4 million in bank funds. The raids stunned medical marijuana advocates, many of whom believed the Obama administration’s policy was to leave states with medical marijuana laws alone. Montana U.S. Attorney Michael Cotter said there was “probable cause that the premises were involved in illegal and large-scale trafficking of marijuana.” “When criminal networks violate federal laws, those involved will be prosecuted,” he said. While 15 states have legalized some form of medical marijuana use, the federal government still considers the drug an illegal controlled substance with a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use.

Tea Party Activists Irked over Fiscal Representation in House

Tea Party activists knew that the dozens of members they got elected to Congress in November couldn’t balance the budget or eliminate the country’s debt overnight. Now their patience seems to be running out. Tea Party officials across the country said they were angered to see more than 30 Tea Party-backed members of Congress voting for the three-week spending plan passed by the House of Representatives this week, which included just $6 billion in cuts. They’ve taken some good first steps, but you cannot continue to kick the can down the road. Somebody needs to man up and make the tough decisions,” said Amy Kremer, chairwoman of the Tea Party Express. “They’ll be voted out as quickly as they were voted in.”

House Votes to Abolish Public Radio Funding

The House on Thursday voted to end federal funding to National Public Radio, the nationwide public radio network whose leadership has been questioned after a series of executive decisions about programming, staffing and reporting bias. Republican supporters said it made good fiscal sense, and Democratic opponents called it an ideological attack that would deprive local stations of access to programs such as “Car Talk” and “All Things Considered.” The bill, passed 228-192 along mainly partisan lines, would bar federal funding of NPR and prohibit local public stations from using federal money to pay NPR dues and buy its programs. The prospects of support in the Democratic-controlled Senate are slim. Seven Republicans broke ranks to vote against the bill.

TARP Saved Wall Street, Less Effective for Main Street

The government’s bailout of banks, auto makers and insurers helped prevent a more severe economic crisis, but might have sowed the seeds of the next one, a congressional watchdog group said Wednesday in its final report. The Congressional Oversight Panel said that the government’s rescue fund may have prevented an economic depression by sending billions of dollars to companies crippled in financial crisis that erupted in 2008. But little has been done to aid to homeowners facing foreclosure or others far from Wall Street. “The good news is that America did not suffer another depression,” panel Chairman Ted Kaufman said. However, Treasury’s “programs for Main Street have been far less effective” than the cash injections that stabilized Wall Street banks during the worst financial crisis in generations, he said. Of the $411 billion that Treasury handed out from the bailout fund, $150 billion remains in private hands. Treasury also has reported profits of $37 billion from fees, dividends and other deal-sweeteners it received from bailed-out companies.

Soaring Food Prices Send Millions into Poverty, Hunger

Corn has soared 52% the past 12 months. Sugar’s up 60%. Soybeans have jumped 41%. And wheat costs 24% more than it did a year ago. For about 44 million people — roughly the population of the New York, Los Angeles and Chicago metropolitan areas combined — the rise in food prices means a descent into extreme poverty and hunger, according to the World Bank. The World Bank’s food index has soared 29% from its level last January. In the U.S., the effect of higher food prices has been modest. U.S. consumers spend about 9% of their income on food, and another 3% for dining out. In many emerging markets, however, 50% or more of a family budget goes toward food — not because food is so expensive, but because income is so low. Kick up the price of wheat or rice or corn, and you’re spelling the difference between having two meals a day or one. Rising food prices have been one of the factors in the Middle East protests.

Economic News

Fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week. New claims fell to a seasonally adjusted 385,000 last week, marking the third decline in the past four weeks, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The four-week average for claims dropped to 386,250, the lowest level since July 2008. The number of people receiving regular unemployment benefits fell by 80,000 to 3.71 million. That was the lowest level since the week of Sept. 27, 2008. Benefit applications below 425,000 signal modest job growth. Companies are finally hiring more after months of sluggish job creation. Employers added 192,000 jobs in February, the biggest gain in nearly a year.

The New York Federal Reserve Bank confirmed Friday that it intervened in currency markets for the first time in more than a decade. The disclosure by the U.S. came a day after the Group of Seven major industrialized nations pledged in a statement to join in a coordinated effort to weaken the Japanese yen. The yen has surged in the last week to post-war record levels following the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. A super-strong yen could cripple Japanese exports, further worsening the economic impact of the disaster that killed thousands and triggered an unfolding nuclear crisis.

U.S. exporters to Japan are reporting widespread disruptions to their shipments, with some containers destroyed, stranded in warehouses or unable to get to customers because of inadequate transportation systems. Most affected are U.S. growers of fruits, vegetables and other agricultural products that ship in large quantities to the world’s third-largest economy. Japan, because of its mountainous terrain and cooler climate, depends heavily on agricultural imports. Reduced U.S. exports could have a small but noticeable effect on economic output during a fragile recovery

Libya

Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa says Libya is declaring an immediate cease-fire and stopping all military operations. Friday’s decision comes after the U.N. voted to authorized a no-fly zone and “all necessary measures” to protect the Libyan people, including airstrikes. Koussa says the cease-fire “will take the country back to safety” and ensure security for all Libyans. But he also criticized the authorization of international military action, calling it a violation of Libya’s sovereignty. In a show of defiance, Moammar Gadhafi’s forces bombarded the last rebel-held western city for a second day Friday as the international community raced to stop him. The attack on Misrata, Libya’s third-largest city, comes as the rebels were on the defensive in their eastern stronghold after Gadhafi vowed to launch a final assault and crush the nearly 5-week-old rebellion against him.

The opposition expressed hope the U.N. resolution, which was passed late Thursday after weeks of deliberation, would help turn the tide in their favor after days of fierce fighting. The U.N. Security Council resolution sets the stage for airstrikes, a no-fly zone and other military measures short of a ground invasion. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday that the U.N. no-fly zone over Libya “requires certain actions taken to protect the planes and the pilots, including bombing targets like the Libyan defense systems.” The move comes as Qaddafi forces have made “significant strides” against the rebels in Libya.

Bahrain

Bahrain continued its crackdown on protesters today with the arrest of key opposition leaders. The arrests came hours after security forces swooped down on the Pearl Roundabout in the center of Manama, the capital, and dispersed pro-democracy protesters camped there. The crackdown, reversing the government’s initial gestures toward reform, began on Monday as hundreds of Saudi-led troops entered Bahrain as part of a Gulf Co-operation Council initiative. At least six people, including three policemen, were killed and more than 1,000 others injured in clashes Wednesday, al-Jazeera reports. The opposition, which is seeking political reform, has gone to ground to plan its next move, the BBC reports.

Yemen

At least 31 people have been killed by security forces who opened fire on an anti-government demonstration in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, and dozens have been wounded. The death toll is among the highest in the month of violence that has shaken Yemen with protesters demanding President Ali Abdullah Saleh step down. Government forces and pro-government thugs have used live fire in an increasingly deadly crackdown. Police started shooting at the protesters rallying outside the Sanaa University from rooftops and nearby houses as demonstrators filled the square after Friday prayers.

Egypt

The protests have not ended in Egypt. In the weeks since a massive street protest ousted President Hosni Mubarak, demonstrators gather nearly every day in one corner or another of the capital to demand better pay or job security. Experts say a new culture of street demonstrations has arisen. Egyptians are using the techniques of the rebellion to organize smaller protests with narrower aims, usually involving wages. Every day, activists send messages on Twitter with the latest news on street protests. The government initially was reluctant to crack down on the protesters, but lately they have been exercising more authority.

Saudi Arabia

Diplomats say Saudi Arabia’s monarch will announce a government reshuffle Friday, an anti-corruption drive and a promise to increase food subsidies to combat rising prices. The rare speech by King Abdullah, the country’s ailing, 86-year-old monarch, comes after a several small demonstrations in the oil-rich kingdom. Though only dozens of people have participated, it appears the monarchy is worried the protests could escalate into more intense gatherings, inspired by the unrest sweeping the Arab world. The king will replace the ministers of defense, higher education and religious affairs.

Afghanistan

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Afghans must overcome “major obstacles” to demonstrate their ability to control the country’s future, including a dispute over the status of parliament and an impasse over the embattled Kabul Bank. The United Nations chief said in a quarterly report to the U.N. Security Council that Afghan parties have taken a number of positive steps, but he warned that if tensions over parliament could lead to a political crisis, in which the government’s credibility and effectiveness would be adversely affected. Afghanistan’s parliament — one of few checks on the administration of President Hamid Karzai— was finally inaugurated in late January after months of investigations and debate over allegations of widespread fraud during the polling. But vote recounts and continued questions about who was rightfully elected could throw doubts on parliament’s legitimacy.

The U.S.-led coalition says more than 40 insurgents have been killed in fighting over the past two days in southwestern and eastern Afghanistan. The operation in the still restive province started two days ago targeting narcotics and weapons trafficking. Opium poppies in Helmand are a main cash crop the Taliban use to fuel their insurgency. NATO is expecting an increase in violence as the traditional Afghan fighting season begins with spring.

Pakistan

U.S. unmanned aircraft fired four missiles into a building where suspected militants were meeting Thursday, killing more than 30 of them in an unusually deadly strike close to the Afghan border. The strikes took place in the Datta Khel area of the North Waziristan tribal region — the main sanctuary for al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters along the Afghan border. The roughly three dozen suspected militants at the meeting were allied with Hafiz Gul Bahadur, a powerful Pakistani Taliban commander in the area who has focused his efforts on fighting foreign troops in Afghanistan. The insurgents were discussing plans to send new groups of fighters across the border, intelligence officials added. Pakistan’s army chief strongly condemned the drone attack, saying the missiles struck a peaceful meeting of tribal elders near the Afghan border.

Weather

After weeks of preparing for major spring floods, St. Paul officials are now warning of water levels unseen in more than four decades that could force the evacuations of 2,200 people. Experts are predicting an uncomfortable 50% chance that the Mississippi River could swell past its record of 26.4 feet set in 1964, and the city is stepping up its preparation efforts. City officials sent letters to residents in the Lowertown area of downtown and the Upper Landing development near downtown, urging them to find temporary alternate places to stay and to store their pets and vehicles. Flooding also could close the area’s utility, storm-water and sewer services.

The Upper Midwest isn’t the only region expected to see potentially catastrophic flooding over the next few weeks. Almost half the USA, including much of the Midwest, Northeast and all the way down the Mississippi River Valley to New Orleans, has an above-average risk for spring flooding, according to a forecast issued by the National Weather Service on Thursday. Many metropolitan areas — where more than one million Americans live — have a greater than 95% chance of major flooding this spring, including Fargo and Grand Forks, N.D.; St. Paul, Minn.; Davenport, Iowa; Rock Island, Ill. and Sioux Falls, S.D. The National Weather Service says there’s an 80% chance the Red River in North Dakota will exceed last year’s 36.95-foot crest at Fargo and Moorhead, Minn., and a 35% chance it will surpass the record crest of 40.84 feet in 2009, when both communities were devastated by flooding.

Rain that fell over New Jersey early Wednesday doesn’t appear to be aggravating flooding in the northern part of the state. Officials don’t expect the rain to pose much of a threat to the swollen Passaic River at Pine Brook and Little Falls. The river continues to recede and officials say it might drop below flood stage on Thursday. Some roads remain closed in the flood zone and several dozen residents in Paterson and Little Falls are waiting to learn when they could return to their homes. Schools reopened in Paterson and Woodland Park. Federal Emergency Management Agency officials are starting to assess the damage.

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