Archive for June, 2020

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)

Signs of the Times (6/16/20)

June 16, 2020

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

43% of U.S. COVID-19 Deaths Occurred in Long-Term Facilities

Almost half of the COVID-19 deaths in the United States have occurred among residents and staff members at nursing homes and long-term care facilities, according to a new analysis by the Wall Street Journal – 50,919 deaths happened in facilities for America’s most vulnerable population. The Journal also noted that the number of cases in long-term care facilities is likely higher than the official count because of how the data is reported to public health authorities in each state. Overall, almost 120,000 Americans have died. Worldwide, the number of cases eclipsed 8 million on Tuesday and more than 440,000 have perished.

Arizona Reports Another Record High in COVID-19 Cases

Arizona reported a record-high 2,392 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday and hospitals reported record numbers of patients as the state continues to grapple with a relentless increase in coronavirus spread. Inpatient beds for patients with suspected and confirmed COVID-19 hit a record number Monday, with 1,506 inpatients. ICU beds in use, ventilators in use and emergency department visits for COVID-19 all reached record levels Monday as well. Tuesday marks the first time the state has reported more than 2,000 new cases in a single day. Most of them were in Maricopa and Yuma Counties. Arizona has seen more than two weeks of high numbers of reported cases, deaths and hospitalizations following reopening in mid-May when the peak number of cases in a single day had been 565.

  • The increase in cases across 21 states is not necessarily because of increased testing. In some states, cases and hospitalizations are on the rise even as testing rates fall. In six states, the seven-day average of new cases has increased since May 31 while the average number of daily tests being conducted has declined. In 14 others, the rate of new cases is increasing faster than the increase in the average number of tests.

Steroid Drug Hailed as Major Breakthrough for Treating COVID-19

Dexamethasone, a cheap and widely used steroid, has become the first drug shown to be able to save lives among COVID-19 patients in what scientists hailed as a “major breakthrough.” Results of trials announced on Tuesday showed dexamethasone, which is used to reduce inflammation in other diseases, reduced death rates by around a third among the most severely ill COVID-19 patients admitted to hospital. The results suggest the drug should immediately become standard care in patients with severe cases of the pandemic disease, said the researchers who led the trials.

Two Hangings of Black Men in California, 6,500 Lynchings from 1865-1950

Meanwhile in California, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department launched an investigation into the death of 24-year-old Robert Fuller, a Black man found hanging from a tree near City Hall in Palmdale. Local officials initially described the death as an apparent suicide, but protesters want a more thorough investigation. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said on Saturday there were no indications of foul play in the hanging death of another Black man in Victorville last month.

  • At least 2,000 more blacks were lynched by white mobs than previously reported, new research found. The Equal Justice Initiative said its researchers have documented 6,500 lynchings between 1865 and 1950, including 2,000 attacks during the Reconstruction that weren’t tallied in its previous reports. The Reconstruction Era (1865-1877) was the turbulent time following the Civil War when the U.S tried to reintegrate Southern states from the Confederacy while 4 million slaves were freed.

Trump Signs Order to Encourage Police to Limit Deadly Force

Under political pressure over protests against police brutality, President Donald Trump plans to sign an executive order Tuesday to leverage grant money in order to encourage law enforcement agencies to adopt higher standards for the use of deadly force. The grants would bolster training and certification around a set of national “best practices” and strengthen a national database to track misconduct. The order, however, falls short of the more sweeping policy changes activists have called for and avoids many contentious issues, including the question of whether police officers should continue to enjoy legal protections from civil lawsuits.

Seattle Bans Chokeholds, Tear Gas and Pepper Spray

The Seattle City Council on Monday voted unanimously to ban police from using chokeholds, and crowd-control devices like tear gas and pepper spray amid protests against police brutality. The council heard repeated complaints from residents forced out of their homes by the gas even though they weren’t protesting. A federal judge on Friday had issued a temporary order banning Seattle police from using tear gas, pepper spray, and foam-tipped projectiles against protesters. The court found that the department had used these non-lethal weapons “disproportionately and without provocation.”

Atlanta Police Chief Resigns, 19 Officers Step Down

The Atlanta police chief has resigned and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department launched an investigation following the deaths of two Black men in separate incidents as protesters continue to demonstrate against systemic racism across the U.S. and in some major cities around the world. Atlanta police Chief Erika Shields is immediately stepping down following the death of Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old man who was shot by an officer while fleeing during a struggle at a Wendy’s drive-thru late Friday night.

  • Protests and destruction erupted in Atlanta on Saturday night in response to the police-involved shooting death of a 27-year-old man outside a Wendy’s fast-food restaurant. The fast-food restaurant was set on fire as rioters filled the parking lot where Brooks was shot by police as he fled after allegedly grabbing a stun gun away from an officer during a struggle. Police arrested 42 demonstrators in Atlanta over the weekend.
  • Nineteen officers of the Atlanta Police Department have stepped down after the shooting of Brooks. Some law enforcement experts say that the shooting was ‘lawful but awful,’ meaning that the officer could have taken alternative action that did not result in the civilian’s death.

Police Suspensions, Resignations Mounting

  • Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart moved to temporarily strip as many as seven deputies of their police powers after the county’s public defender complained that deputies had apparently posted racist, insulting and threatening comments online.
  • At least seven Minneapolis police officers have quit and another seven are in the process of resigning, citing a lack of support from department and city leaders. The Minnesota Department of Human Rights launched a civil rights investigation into the city’s police department this month and the FBI is investigating whether police willfully deprived Floyd of his civil rights.
  • In South Florida, 10 officers resigned from their city’s SWAT unit over concerns about safety, saying they feel “restrained by the politicization of our tactics.”
  • In Buffalo, New York, nearly 60 officers resigned from the force’s emergency response team over the suspension of two police officers who were caught in a video pushing an elderly protester to the ground.

NYC to Reduce Police Budget by $1 Billion

The New York City Council is proposing to cut an unprecedented $1 billion from the NYPD’s budget for the coming fiscal year as calls grow to defund the police in the wake of George Floyd’s death. “We believe that we can and should work to get to $1 billion in cuts to New York City’s police spending in the Fiscal 2021 budget, an unprecedented reduction that would not only limit the scope of the NYPD, but also show our commitment towards moving away from the failed policing policies of the past,” the council said in a statement. The cuts include reducing uniform headcount through attrition, cutting overtime, shifting responsibilities away from the NYPD, finding efficiencies and savings in OTPS spending, and lowering associated fringe expenses.

  • Facing a spike in shootings and murders, NYC will also disband its precinct anti-crime teams, deploying about 600 mostly plainclothes officers to its detective, intelligence and counterterrorism bureaus.

Criminals Hijacked Washington State Protest

On the afternoon of Sunday, May 31, a handful of demonstrators carrying signs gathered at a major intersection in the Seattle suburb. The crowd quickly grew to 40. Then, after two men got on cell phones, 300 more showed up, then 1,000 — white, Black and brown. “It was a tsunami of people, and they just started running,” said Steve Mylett, the police chief in Bellevue, Washington. “I didn’t hear George Floyd’s name once. I didn’t hear, ‘Police reform!’ They just scattered throughout the city. … They used tactics we’ve never seen before.”  Mylett said faux protesters, many dressed in black with hoodies, gloves and COVID masks, ransacked shops and caused millions of dollars in losses. Some ran from one business to the next, trailed by vehicles that stopped outside high-end stores, loaded up, and moved on. “It’s so unfortunate that peaceful protests got hijacked by criminal networks using them for cover,” Mylett said.

  • Journalist Andy Ngo spent time in Seattle’s CHOP (Capitol Hill Organized Protest) zone and found that it was peaceful during the day, but at night “the criminal elements come out.” He said, “last night that was made very clear, when one person on a microphone and a loudspeaker was able to sic a mob of probably more than 100 people to chase down this business that was several blocks away. They just all descended on it. It was pure anarchy,” Ngo remarked.

Vigilantes Accused of Starting Violence in New Mexico

Vigilantes might have started the violence that led to a shooting in New Mexico during a demonstration on Monday authorities said, and the governor is vowing to hold the “instigators” fully accountable. One man was hospitalized in critical condition and another man charged with aggravated battery, Albuquerque police said. The shooting happened during a protest in the city’s Old Town calling for the removal of a sculpture of a Spanish conquistador, officials said. “I am horrified and disgusted beyond words,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement on Twitter condemning the “heavily armed individuals who flaunted themselves at the protest, calling themselves a ‘civil guard.’ There is absolutely no space in New Mexico for any violent would-be ‘militia’.

Looters and COVID-19 Sink Many Businesses

From a Chinese restaurant in Seattle to a New Jersey liquor store, small businesses have been ravaged by looting following the death of George Floyd in police custody, dealing a second crippling blow to those already reeling from COVID-19. Years of hard work and life savings were wiped out overnight, putting reopening plans on hold and forcing small businesses to seek relief from insurers or their communities. The losses have been particularly devastating to minority-owned businesses, which typically don’t have as much cash on hand and aren’t insured against damage during protests.  These businesses were already being disproportionately harmed ly the pandemic. The coronavirus hit African Americans harder than other groups, with higher mortality rates and greater job losses, a harrowing setback that many fear will deepen existing inequities.

  • One black business owner who was looted had this to say: “You can have it and wear it with pride. You can take a picture and post it on Instagram,” Joel Stallworth said. “Stick your head up. You are amazing. These protests are the only reason we got these police officers arrested.”
  • The principal of a well-known Chicago high school is under pressure to resign because, among other ‘problematic’ acts, she’s urged students to “not participate in violence or looting.” She, a black woman, is thus far refusing to resign.

Christianity Today Calls on Churches to Lead on Reparations to Blacks

Following recent black protests over police brutality and killings, the nation “may not be ready for reparations on racism issues” but the “church can lead the way in biblical restitution,” according to the president and CEO of Christianity Today. Timothy Dalrymple said “repentance alone is not enough” for white evangelicals to atone for the nation’s “original sin” of racism. “The virus of racism infected our church, our Constitution and laws, our attitudes and ideologies. We have never fully defeated it,” Dalrymple wrote. “It’s time for white evangelicals to confess that we have not taken the sin of racism with the gravity and seriousness it deserves,” he said, claiming the church was “silent in the face of slavery or even complicit in it.”

Orthodox Jews, Catholic Priests Sue NY Over ‘Corona Discrimination’

Three Orthodox Jews and two Catholic priests sued New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in federal court on Wednesday for violating their rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The lawsuit accuses the governor and mayor of using “blatant double standards” when enforcing coronavirus violations against small religious gatherings in comparison to enforcement approaches used with thousands who have taken to the streets to protest the death of George Floyd. The lawsuit also highlights incidents in which de Blasio didn’t wear a mask, ignored social distancing, and did not disband a large political gathering that he attended on June 4. In contrast, just days later a small group of Hasidic children playing in a park were forced to leave.

NIH Scientists Fired/Resign Over Foreign Ties

“An ongoing inquiry by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) into grantees’ failures to disclose foreign ties has resulted in the firings and resignations of 54 scientists,” according to The Epoch Times. “The NIH investigation has investigated 189 scientists for undisclosed foreign ties, with 93 percent of the hidden funding coming from China. Some 77 grantees have been removed from the NIH system as a result of the probe.”

FDA Revokes Emergency Approval of Hydroxychloroquine

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revoked the emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine to treat certain hospitalized coronavirus patients. The emergency use authorization had allowed for coronavirus patients to receive the drug (which President Donald Trump has been taking as a prophylactic) “when a clinical trial was unavailable, or participation in a clinical trial was not feasible,” according to the FDA.

Supreme Court Rules Employers Can’t Fire LGBT Employees

The Supreme Court handed a big win to the LGBT community Monday, ruling in a 6-3 decision that an employer who fires a worker for being gay or transgender violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act — which already protected people from employer sex discrimination, as well as discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin. The decision dealt with three cases. In one, Clayton County, Georgia employee Gerald Bostock was fired from his job as a child welfare advocate for conduct “unbecoming” a county employee soon after he joined a gay softball league. In another, New York skydiving instructor Donald Zarda was fired days after mentioning he was gay, and in a third, Michigan funeral home worker Aimee Stephens was fired after she told her employer that she would be identifying as a woman six years into her employment. “In Title VII, Congress adopted broad language making it illegal for an employer to rely on an employee’s sex when deciding to fire that employee,” said the court’s opinion, written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, a Trump appointee.

  • There is no question that yesterday morning’s 6-3 decision handed down from the U.S. Supreme Court has far-reaching consequences. “The Court once again has made law, not interpreted the law,” notes Cathi Herrod, President of the Center for Arizona Policy. The could affect how conservative groups operate their own institutions.

Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Trump Sanctuary City Case

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear the administration’s challenge to California’s main sanctuary city law protecting illegal immigrants, dealing a significant blow to President Trump’s hopes of forcing jurisdictions to cooperate with ICE. The justices did not offer comment on their decision, though two — Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. — said they wanted to hear the case. It takes four justices to put a case on the court’s calendar. By declining to hear the case the court left in place a ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld California’s SB54, a law enacted in 2017 in response to Mr. Trump’s election, that prohibits state and local authorities from cooperating with federal immigration efforts.

Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Cases About Qualified Immunity

The Supreme Court is, for now, declining to get involved in an ongoing debate by citizens and in Congress over policing, rejecting cases Monday that would have allowed the justices to revisit when police can be held financially responsible for wrongdoing. With protests over racism and police brutality continuing nationwide, the justices turned away more than half a dozen cases involving the legal doctrine known as qualified immunity, which the high court created more than 50 years ago. It shields officials, including police, from lawsuits for money as a result for things they do in the course of their job. As usual, the court didn’t comment in turning away the cases, but Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a 6-page dissent saying he would have agreed to hear one of the cases.

Economic News

Retail sales spiked 17.7 percent in May, following a two-month collapse during the pandemic. Retail sales surged back in May with the reopening of some states, although sales were still down 8 percent since February. According to the Commerce Department, it was the largest monthly jump ever after a historic 16.4% drop in April. Americans bought more groceries and home essentials as they sheltered in place. There was also a rebound in clothing and accessories, which rose 188% in May, according to the Census Bureau.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Tuesday renewed the central bank’s vow to keep interest rates near zero until “the economy has weathered recent events,” noting significant uncertainty about the strength of the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic despite the recent “modest” rebound.

Hilton Hotels is laying off 2,100 employees, or roughly 22% of its corporate workforce, as the lingering effects of coronavirus continue to depress demand for leisure and corporate travel. The hotel chain is also extending the existing furloughs for many of its corporate staff for an additional 90 days. Covid-19 all but destroyed the global tourism industry, resulting in temporary hotel closures, border restrictions and flight reductions.

The national average price of gasoline has risen for the sixth consecutive week from the low of $1.74 per gallon in April, and increases are expected throughout the summer. The national average was $2.10 as of Sunday, which is 70 cents less than a year ago,  according to AAA.

National gym chain 24 Hour Fitness has filed for bankruptcy, after the Covid-19 pandemic forced its facilities shut for months. 24 Hour Fitness said Monday in its Chapter 11 reorganization filing that it has secured $250 million in funding to help reopen some of its clubs and expects a majority of locations to be open by the end of June. However, it’s emerging as a smaller chain: It permanently closed 100 US locations in 14 states with roughly 300 clubs remaining.

Israel Corona Cases Escalating, Another Lockdown Looming

Another 122 Israelis were confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus on Sunday, raising the active cases in Israel to 3,268, the Health Ministry reported. The percentage of positive results from testing rose to 2.2 percent, compared with only 1.2-to-1.4 percent the previous week, the ministry reported. Hundreds of schools have been forced to close in the past two weeks after students and teachers were found to be infected. The Ministry of Education said Sunday that 506 students and teachers have the virus, forcing them to close 183 educational institutions. The closures sent 25,669 teachers and students into preventive isolation. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a stern warning that in order to keep the economy open and avoid another nationwide lockdown, the public had to do a better job of complying with health regulations after another weekend of crowded beaches and parks where many people failed to wear face masks or keep social distancing.

China Sees Highest Daily Coronavirus Cases in 2 Months

Beijing is reintroducing strict lockdown measures and rolling out mass testing after a fresh cluster of novel coronavirus cases emerged from the city’s largest wholesale food market, sparking fears of a resurgence of the deadly outbreak. Dozens of new coronavirus infections were reported Sunday in China’s capital as the country where the deadly virus originated tallied its highest daily total of new cases in two months. China’s National Health Commission said Sunday there were 57 confirmed COVID-19 cases in 24 hours through midnight Saturday, including 36 cases in Beijing. All of the cases in Beijing have been linked to the city’s biggest wholesale food market. which was shut down Saturday.

20 Indian soldiers dead after clash with Chinese troops

A clash between Indian and Chinese troops resulted in at least 20 Indian deaths, the Indian army says. No details were forthcoming from the Chinese. The conflict occurred high in the Himalayas. It is the first deadly encounter between Indian and Chinese forces in 45 years and marks a severe escalation in tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbors.

New Zealand No Longer Coronavirus-Free

New Zealand is no longer free from the new coronavirus after health officials say two women who flew from London to see a dying parent have tested positive. But before they were tested, the women had been given an exemption to leave quarantine on compassionate grounds and had traveled from Auckland to Wellington by car. As part of their travel plan, the women had no contact with any people or any public facilities on their road trip. Nevertheless, the new cases have sparked a round of testing in New Zealand for anybody who might have been close to the women. The women remain in isolation in Wellington and have delayed the funeral of their parent until they have recovered. Until Tuesday, New Zealand had gone more than three weeks without any new cases and had declared that everybody who had contracted the virus had recovered, Twenty-two people died.

Spain to Become First Nation to Employ Universal Basic Income

Spain is to begin rolling out their universal basic income as soon as they possibly can in order to try and offer some relief after the devastation that the coronavirus has caused the country. Minister for economic affairs Nadia Calvino told Spanish broadcaster La Sexta on Sunday night that the move was intended to help families during the pandemic. But Ms. Calvino, who is also deputy prime minister, said the government’s ambition was that UBI could become something that “stays forever, that becomes a structural instrument, a permanent instrument.” If the payments are successfully implemented, Spain would become the first country in Europe to introduce them nationwide on a long-term basis.

France Launches Coalition To Fight Rising Jihadi Violence in West Africa

France launched a coalition of West African and European allies on Friday to fight jihadi militants in the Sahel region of West Africa, hoping more political cooperation and special forces would boost a military effort that has so far failed to stifle violence. Former colonial power France has deployed thousands of soldiers in the arid region south of the Sahara desert since 2013, and now has 5,100 troops there. But violence by groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State has been on the rise.

Europe Seeks to Condemn Iran for Stonewalling Nuclear Inspectors

Major European powers want to admonish Iran through the U.N. nuclear watchdog over its ongoing refusal to give access to inspectors at sites suspected of activities that may have been part of a nuclear weapons program, a draft resolution showed. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has issued two reports this year rebuking Iran for failing to answer questions about nuclear activities almost two decades ago and for denying it access to two sites.

North Korea Blew Up Liaison Office with South Korea

Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, issued an ominous-sounding warning over the weekend, and it looks like she’s made good on her word: the North blew up the joint liaison office it shared with South Korea in the North Korean border city of Kaesong, prompting an emergency meeting Tuesday by South Korea’s national security council. Kim Yo Jong had hinted on Saturday that the “useless” four-story structure would see its demise unless “human scum” (North Korea’s code for defectors now in South Korea) stopped sending anti-North messages and food, cash, and USB sticks with news programs over the border.

Wildfires

Red flag conditions continued Tuesday to further spread a large wildfire burning in Arizona’s Kaibab National Forest north of the Grand Canyon. The Mangum Fire has consumed 46 square miles and forced evacuations in Jacob Lake, Arizona. The fire, which doubled in size over the weekend, was only 3% contained as of Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, in southern Arizona, more residents in the mountains north of Tucson were warned to be ready to flee as the Bighorn Fire burned toward Mt. Lemmon and Mt. Bigelow. The fire has burned across 23 square miles and is 30% contained.

Another large fire burning in the Tonto National Forest, about 55 miles northeast of Phoenix, doubled in size over the weekend. Firefighters will face worsening conditions early this week in Arizona with wind gusts up to 45 mph on Tuesday and very low humidity. Residents of two more communities have been told to prepare to flee the “life-threatening” Bush Fire, which more than doubled in size again on Monday.

Signs of the Times (6/13/20)

June 13, 2020

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:29-30)

Only 1/3 of Christians View President Trump as a ‘Man of Faith’

About a quarter of Americans and just one-third of Christians say they see President Donald Trump somewhat or strongly as a “man of faith.” About 55% of conservatives polled said they believe Trump is a Christian while 60% of Republicans also agreed. In another poll, the Public Religion Research Institute reported that there has been a 12-point fall in favorability for Trump among white Catholics. Among white evangelicals, that number is 15 points.

  • The conundrum is that President Trump has supported Christian causes (e.g. abortion, religious freedom, conservative judges, etc.), but his behavior is often very un-Christ-like (e.g. boasting, blustering, condemning , etc.).

Trump Finalizes Rule Defining Gender as Biological

The Trump administration on Friday finalized a regulation that defines gender as a person’s biological sex, reversing an Obama-era rule aimed at protecting transgender people against sex discrimination in health care. The Health and Human Services Department regulation says essentially that “gender identity” is not protected under federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in health care. The policy shift was long sought by religious and social conservatives. The Obama administration’s regulation defined gender as a person’s internal sense of being male, female, neither or a combination.

Transgender Decries Fake Existence, Says Biology Rules

Former transgender Laura Perry wrote in the AFA Journal, “Your heart is deceiving you. Yes, your feelings are real, but your feelings do not determine who you are. We must align our thoughts and feelings with reality, not attempt to align with our feelings and desires.” To other transgenders she says, “Heed Jeremiah’s warning in the Bible. ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) “ Laura lived nearly ten years as a transgender. Now she says, “Living as transgender, you are attempting to construct a life for yourself that is not ever going to be real, is never going to satisfy, and is never going to resolve the problem in the first place. You will end up swimming in a sea of your own lies, in constant inner turmoil,”

Arizona Corona Cases Rise to Record Levels Again

The day after Gov. Doug Ducey downplayed Arizona’s recent spikes in daily COVID-19 cases and ongoing increases in hospitalizations and deaths, the state’s numbers continued to climb on Friday, with a record high for new cases reported and a record high for inpatient hospitalizations. Friday saw 1,654 new cases, the most new cases reported in one day. Saturday reported 1540 cases compared to the May 8 peak of 581. Inpatient hospitalizations for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 hit its highest number on Thursday, with 1,336 hospitalizations, up from the previous high of 1,291 hospitalizations on Wednesday. The good news is that the mortality rate is still trending slightly downward.

  • Arizona’s sharp increases over the past two weeks, particularly the spikes in positive cases, have raised questions and alarm locally and nationally about whether the state has done enough to slow the spread and what other precautions may be necessary. Ducey’s stay-at-home order expired nearly a month ago.

Florida and South Carolina Cases Also Rising

New coronavirus cases also broke single-day records in Florida and South Carolina on Thursday. The Florida Department of Health confirmed 1,698 additional cases of COVID-19 within the preceding 24 hours, nearly a 20 percent increase from the state’s previous high of 1,419. South Carolina recorded a record total of 687 coronavirus cases on Thursday — surpassing its previous high of 542, set just three days earlier.

U.S. Passes 2 Million Cases of Coronavirus

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. hit the 2 million mark Wednesday night, with almost 113,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, tells CNN that deaths could top 200,000 by September. “I think right now, most Americans are not ready to lock back down, and I completely understand that,” he says. “Here’s the bottom line, though, which is that between 800 and 1,000 Americans are going to die every single day.” The number of new coronavirus cases is falling in states that were hit hard early on, including New York, but cases are rising in 21 states.

  • Brazil now has the second-highest COID-19 death toll in the world after the U,S,

Seattle Autonomous Zone Has Armed Guards, Inner Conflict

Seattle police say they have received reports of armed guards and potential extortion in a self-declared autonomous zone that spans six blocks and includes an abandoned, now-closed police precinct. We’ve heard, anecdotally, reports of citizens and businesses being asked to pay a fee to operate within this area,” Assistant Chief of Police Deanna Nollette said on Wednesday. Protesters calling to defund the police and make sweeping reforms to law enforcement tactics have declared a six-block region — spanning 13th Avenue past 11th Avenue, near Cal Anderson Park, and from East Olive Street to East Pike Street — the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.” The city leadership in Seattle has “lost all the political will to enforce the rule of law,” according to Michael Solan, president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild.

  • A lengthy, 30-point list posted online by demonstrators, titled “the demands of the collective black voices at Free Capitol Hill to the government of Seattle, Washington,” is calling for sweeping changes in the justice system, health and human services, the economy and education, including free college and rent control.
  • Protesters inside the self-declared autonomous zone booed and heckled members of the African American Community Advisory Council Thursday afternoon as the group told demonstrators they had “hijacked” the message of Black Lives Matter.
  • A judge ruled in favor of a Black Lives Matter group on Friday, banning Seattle police from using tear gas, pepper spray and flash-bang devices to disperse crowds at protests. reinforces a similar temporary ban by the city’s Mayor Jenny Durkan and Seattle Police Department Chief Carmen Best.
  • Chief Best has accused the mayor of shirking her responsibilities as an elected official and allowing protesters to oust police officers from a precinct located inside the 6-block radius now deemed a “cop free zone.”
    • We must come to terms with the truth that there are some bad police officers as well as some bad blacks, but most of each group are not bad. There will be no substantial progress in eliminating the bad apples in each group if each side claims the other is all bad. God’s love and compassion is the only solution. [This message was blocked by Twitter four times with no explanation.]

Police Unions Seen as Barrier to Change

Law enforcement insiders and criminology experts point to police unions as the biggest reason police practices have hardly changed despite the outrage over killings of unarmed black men over the years. “Police unions are the major stumbling block against law enforcement reform,’’ said Kalfani Ture, a former police officer in Georgia who now teaches criminal justice at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. Ture offered several examples of how police unions shield members from accountability for their actions, including coaching officers involved in use-of-force incidents on how to write favorable reports and having them collaborate to present a narrative that exonerates them from blame and places fault on the suspect.

Protest Fallout

Additional developments in the Black Lives Matter protests include:

  • Martin Gugino, the 75-year-old man who fell to the ground after being pushed by Buffalo police officers last week, sustained a brain injury related to the incident. Gugino, of Amherst, New York, had been in serious but stable condition before his condition was upgraded to fair earlier this week. He was moved to Erie County Medical Center’s rehabilitation floor.
  • A police commander in Oklahoma is “under review” after he said that officers are shooting African Americans “less than we probably ought to be” during a local radio interview. The Tulsa Police Department denounced the comments made by Major Travis Yates, who is white.
  • No-knock warrants were banned in Louisville after unanimous council vote. The ordinance is called Breonna’s Law after Breonna Taylor, an unarmed black woman who was fatally shot by Louisville Metro Police in her apartment.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he will issue an executive order that will require local governments and police agencies, about 500, to develop plans that “reinvents and modernizes” police strategies and programs in their communities. The order is part of the “NYS Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative” that Cuomo said the state is launching.
  • Ten members of a police SWAT team in a South Florida city quit the unit this week, concerned about “today’s political climate” and its impact on their jobs. In a letter dated Tuesday, the officers in Hallandale Beach, Broward County, complained of being “minimally equipped, under trained and often times restrained” in performing their duties.
  • Walmart will no longer keep “multicultural” personal care products – marketed to African Americans – locked up in glass cases in stores, a practice that has long made the giant retailer the target of criticism and a discrimination lawsuit. Walmart had previously defended the policy, saying the decision on which products should be secured is left up to individual store managers. Certain items are kept locked up because they are more likely to be stolen.

What’s Up With Juneteenth?

President Trump first announced holding a MAGA rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth, but then rescheduled it after many blacks complained. June 19, called Juneteenth,  is celebrated as the date slavery ended in the United States. Although the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect Jan. 1, 1863, it wasn’t until June 19, 1865, after the conclusion of the Civil War, that the last of the newly freed slaves were read President Abraham Lincoln’s decree in Texas.

  • Tulsa is also the site of what some call the single worst incident of racial violence in American history. The Tulsa Massacre of 1921 took place on May 31 and June 1, 1921, when mobs of white residents attacked black residents and businesses of the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The attack, carried out on the ground and from private aircraft, destroyed more than 35 square blocks of the district—at that time the wealthiest black community in the United States, known as “Black Wall Street”.

Americans Saving More, Spending Less

The financial changes that Americans have made in response to the pandemic have been beneficial. In fact, the financial practices many are adopting are worth keeping up even after the threat from the pandemic has passed. According to an MX poll: 34% of survey respondents indicate they’ve upped their savings rate because of the novel coronavirus; 59% of Americans have cut their budgets so they aren’t spending as much money as they did pre-pandemic; 48% of those surveyed indicate they are prioritizing living expenses, while 30% of respondents indicate their top priority is consumables, including food and drink.

Economic News

About 1.5 million Americans filed first-time applications for unemployment insurance last week, the Labor Department said Thursday. That pushes the tally of those who have made initial claims – a rough measure of layoffs — over the past 12 weeks to a staggering 44.1 million. The good news is the total is down from 1.9 million the prior week, and  has fallen 10 straight weeks since peaking at 6.9 million at the end of March. The weekly tallies are still far higher than the previous record of 695,000 unemployment claims during a deep recession in October 1982.

As many as 25,000 stores could shutter this year as businesses continue to feel the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report from Coresight Research. “We anticipate that approximately 55%-60% of all store closures will be mall-based,” Coresight said in the report released Tuesday. ”

Just Eat Takeaway.com is acquiring Grubhub in a $7.3 billion deal that will create one of the world’s largest restaurant delivery companies. Amsterdam-based Just Eat Takeaway.com and Chicago-based Grubhub announced the merger late Wednesday. The two processed 593 million restaurant orders in 2019 and have about 70 million users worldwide.

Starbucks will close up to 400 company-owned locations over the next 18 months while also speeding up the expansion of “convenience-led formats” such as curbside pickup, drive-thru and mobile-only pickup locations. The Seattle-based coffee giant says the moves are being driven by changing consumer behaviors that have shifted because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In mid-March, the company closed locations and moved to a “to go” model at other stores.

Amazon is preparing for life in a post-COVID-19 world, gearing up to test warehouse workers for the coronavirus every two weeks. Each worker will have to conduct a self-test using a nasal swap every two weeks. They would be guided through the test via a video with a medical professional nearby to supervise. The e-commerce giant is earmarking the $4 billion in operating profit it would normally earn in the second quarter to respond to the pandemic.

Persecution Watch

A bus driver in Israel could lose his job for sharing the Gospel with passengers, according to his employer. “It’s not the Old Testament and the New Testament — they are one,” the Hebrew-speaking driver says in the video clip. “If you read it, one completes the other, and then you realize that it all comes from the Holy Spirit.” The Kavim bus company issued a statement following the viral video: “Considering that this is the second complaint on this matter, and after the driver failed to cease his activity, he has been summoned to a disciplinary hearing and the company will weigh whether or not to continue his employment.”

Palestinians Prefer to Live Under Israel than PA

There may be a huge gap between the opinions of Palestinian Authority (PA) officials and PA residents concerning Israel’s sovereignty plans for Judea and Samaria, Channel 13’s Arab affairs commentator Zvi Yehezkeli reported on Tuesday. Yehezkeli interviewed several Arab residents of Judea and Samaria about their opinions on Israel applying sovereignty over portions of the territories. “What has the PA done for us?” one businessman asked. “I don’t want a state. I want money. Money is preferable to a state. The entire Palestinian people wants this. What does it want? It doesn’t want the PA. The PA robbed us and destroyed us.” Another Arab said, “It is a million times better for Israel to be responsible for the entire territory.”

Massacre In Nigeria’s Borno State Killed More People than Months Of Coronavirus

It took less than two hours for gunmen to kill more people in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno state than the coronavirus reportedly had in three months. Modu Ajimi, a 42-year-old civil servant in the district of Gubio, lost four cousins in the massacre, which claimed at least 81 lives Tuesday, the latest bloody chapter in the region’s decade-long conflict. The young adults were out fetching water, he said — pandemic hygiene called for extra buckets — when militants rolled up in trucks, shooting everyone in sight. The jihadist terrorist group, Boko Haram, has killed more than 30,000 people since 2009, hasn’t stopped staging regular attacks and stealing livestock in the country’s northeast during the pandemic.

North Korea Warns U.S. of Election Interference, Threatens South Korea

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry warned Thursday that the US election in November could be in jeopardy if Washington doesn’t stop interfering in Korean affairs, reports Reuters. “If the US pokes its nose into others’ affairs with careless remarks, far from minding its internal affairs, at a time when its political situation is in the worst-ever confusion, it may encounter an unpleasant thing hard to deal with,” said ministry spokesman Kwon Jong Gun, according to state media. North Korea on Friday said it was abandoning attempts to pursue a diplomatic relationship with the White House because two years after a historic handshake between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un “even a slim ray of optimism” for peace and prosperity on the Korean peninsula had “faded away into a dark nightmare.”

  • The powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un threatened military action against South Korea as she bashed Seoul on Saturday over declining bilateral relations and its inability to stop activists from floating anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border.

Plastic Rain Falling Across U.S.

Delivered like dust by the wind and rain, researchers in a new study estimate that more than 1,000 tons of tiny plastic microparticles – roughly the equivalent of 120-300 million plastic water bottles – falls upon national parks and protected wilderness areas in the western United States each year. The findings were published Thursday in the peer-reviewed journal Science in the article “Plastic rain in protected areas of the United States.” Lead researcher Janice Brahney of Utah State University was “shocked” at the amount of microplastic her team uncovered, she said in a statement. “Plastics don’t decompose,” she told the Denver Post. “They just break down into smaller and smaller fibers, and that allows them to be transported through the atmosphere.” These “microplastics” are known to accumulate in wastewaters, rivers, and ultimately the worlds’ oceans – and as Brahney’s team showed, they also accumulate in the atmosphere.

Wildfires

Hundreds of homes are threatened by a raging wildfire that continued to grow overnight in hot, dry conditions in the Catalina Foothills near Tucson, Arizona. The Bighorn Fire expanded to nearly 14 square miles Friday and was just 10% contained. The blaze threatened 850 homes and an evacuation order was issued Thursday afternoon for residents of several neighborhoods in the Pima Canyon.

Weather

More than 450,000 customers across the Upper Midwest still had no electricity Thursday morning after high winds and severe thunderstorms damaged buildings and cars, blew over semis and toppled trees and utility lines. A tornado may have touched down in western Pennsylvania’s Beaver County, according to the National Weather Service.

Flooding inundated at least 100 streets and roadways in New Orleans Wednesday. The pumps that drain the city couldn’t keep up after one of the turbines that powers them went offline. The streets were already flooded when the failure occurred. Soil moisture is wetter than average due to recent rains from Tropical Storm Cristobal, which likely contributed to trees toppling over.

Five people were killed and thousands evacuated in heavy rains that began late Thursday night in southern China, bringing the death toll to at least 18 from recent storms and flooding across the region. Eight others were missing as of Saturday. About 13,000 people were evacuated and more than 2,000 homes damaged

 

Signs of the Times (6/10/20)

June 10, 2020

My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved.. (Psalm 62:5-6)

Arizona’s Increased COVID-19 Cases Called ‘Alarming’

Experts around the country and in Arizona are raising alarms about Arizona’s COVID-19 situation because cases and hospitalizations have increased for the past two weeks, reports the USA TODAY. The increase in cases can’t solely be attributed to increased testing in Arizona, experts say. Instead, it looks like the state is trending upward in a way that is concerning and could need another stay-at-home order to curb the spread. “I would go so far as to say alarming,” said Dr. William Hanage, an epidemiology professor at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “We have seen a steady climb of COVID-19 cases in Arizona over the last two weeks,” Banner Health tweeted Monday. “This trend is concerning to us, and also correlates with a rise in cases that we are seeing in our hospital ICUs.” Governor Ducey’s office has repeatedly pointed to an increase in testing as the cause of case numbers increasing. Hospitals are also being asked to prepare for crisis care, and to suspend elective surgeries if they are experiencing a shortage of staff or bed capacity.

  • As the reopenings continue, 21 states are now seeing an increase in Covid-19 cases, including Texas, North and South Carolina, California, Oregon, Arkansas, Mississippi, Utah in addition to Arizona. Since the start of June, 14 states and Puerto Rico recorded their highest-ever seven-day average of new coronavirus cases.

U.S. Police Shoot, Kill and Imprison More People than All Other Developed Countries

Statistical comparisons show that police in the US typically shoot, arrest and imprison more people than other developed nations. A media review by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) found a total of 1,348 potential arrest-related deaths in the ten months from June 2015 through March 2016 in the U,S. By comparison, only 13 people in the UK died in or following police custody in the closest time period, according to the country’s police watchdog. In Australia, 21 deaths occurred in police custody or custody-related operations in 2015/16. In addition, The Washington Post counted 1,004 people fatally shot by police in 2019, for instance, while the group Mapping Police Violence tallied 1,099 in the U.S. Even the FBI’s figure of 407 “justifiable homicides” dramatically dwarfs that of many other countries. A total of 10,310,960 arrests were made in the U.S. in 2018 — that’s one arrest made per every 32 American citizens. Those figures give the U.S. a far higher arrest rate than the UK or Australia, among others.

  • America’s prison population of 2.2 million is higher than the combined populations of Washington, DC, Boston and Miami. That’s 655 prisoners out of 100,000 people. By comparison, the UK’s rate is 140, Canada’s is 114 and Japan’s is 41.

Court Orders Implementation of Immediate Changes in Minneapolis Police Department

The Hennepin County Court approved a proposed court order Monday that requires the Minneapolis Police Department to implement immediate structural changes to protect local communities following the death of George Floyd. The order was filed by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) and comes amid an ongoing civil rights investigation. The court said it has the power to enforce these “preliminary measures” and failure to comply with the order could lead to penalties. Under the approved court order, the City of Minneapolis must implement a series of measures which include banning neck restraints and chokeholds. In addition, any police officer, regardless of tenure or rank, must now report if they observe another police officer use any unauthorized use of force while on-scene.

  • The Los Angeles Police Department is temporarily banning the use of chokeholds pending a board of commissioners review of the practice, in response to nationwide protests.Mayor Eric Garcetti also moved to slash funding for police by approximately $150 million amid the “defund the police” movement and called for “investing” to make communities “healthy and safe.”

Congressional Democrats Release Proposal for Police Reform

Democrats on Capitol Hill unveiled their new sweeping police reform package on Monday, seeking to quickly respond to the outrage that swept across the country in response to George Floyd’s killing in Minnesota. The bill would make significant changes to training, resources and accountability policies for police nationwide that activists argue is based on decades-old racism built into the system as we know it and led to deaths of black men and women and excessive use of force by authorities. The “Justice and Policing Act” includes provisions to create a National Police Misconduct Registry, curtail racial profiling, federally ban chokeholds and “no-knock” warrants in drug cases, develop a national standard for use of force, and limit the amount of military-grade weapons transferred to local and state departments. It would also limit “qualified immunity,” which currently prevents government officials and officers from being sued for misconduct while acting in their official capacity. The bill also would make lynching a federal crime,

Seattle Protesters Storm City Hall, Demand Mayor Resign

Hundreds of protesters, aided by a sympathetic City Council member, stormed Seattle’s City Hall Tuesday night to demand the mayor’s resignation, just days after seizing a six-block downtown zone that includes a shuttered police precinct. Demonstrators remained peaceful, without reports of violence or injuries, but are pushing Mayor Jenny Durkan to step down if she refuses to defund the city’s police department. The protesters continued to camp out in a self-declared “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” (CHAZ)– a region spanning six blocks and encompassing the precinct– which has effectively been abandoned by law enforcement after the Seattle Police Department closed the East Precinct on Monday. Since the police cleared out two nights ago, the area has remained relatively peaceful, despite the ongoing demonstrations. Police said they will be responding to the area only if there is a 911 call for an emergency.

Looting/Rioting Caused by Wide Variety of Provocateurs

While federal law enforcement officials say intelligence gathered so far in dozens of investigations shows that some of the chaos was fanned or carried out by agitators from a mix of extremists across the ideological spectrum, both left and right, federal and local officials also say that local criminal groups, including gangs and neighborhood crews known for other criminal activity, posed a major part of the disorder. Of the more than 50 people charged by the Justice Department in relation to the unrest as of Tuesday, only a handful are alleged by prosecutors to have a connection to any extremist group.

  • Federal prosecutors charged three Las Vegas men alleged to be members of the far-right Boogaloo extremist movement last week with conspiring to cause destruction and possessing Molotov cocktails at a protest in the city. The FBI and local authorities also arrested three Texas residents on Friday who are accused in state charges of being members of Antifa and looting a Target store.

Police Make Multiple Arrests in Murder of Retired Police Chief

David Dorn, the retired police captain in St. Louis, was defending his friend’s store from being looted when he was gunned down by the looters. Then, someone videoed him dying and put it on Facebook Live. Two of those involved in the murder have now been arrested. Officials said 24-year-old black Stephan Cannon was charged with first-degree murder. Police said Cannon admitted he cut his hair to change his appearance after seeing surveillance video released by police. The other individual arrested is 27-year-old Jimmie Robinson was charged with burglary, armed criminal action and stealing.

Black Pro-Lifers Arrested for Praying at Planned Parenthood While Hundreds of Rioters Go Free

In the midst of violent riots and looting in New York City, police in the city chose to arrest two black women who were peacefully counseling women outside a Planned Parenthood abortion facility instead. The women were arrested after allegedly violating city social distancing guidelines because of the coronavirus. Bevelyn  Beatty and Edmee Chavannes said they actually were social distancing. “Let me tell you something, Christians get it the worst,” Beatty said of their pro-life outreach. “I have not been so harassed by the police until I started doing this!” She said they were not protesting at the abortion facility, they went there to offer women information and resources.

Studies Find Anti-Parasite and Arthritis Drugs Cuts Coronavirus Mortality by 40%

Preliminary findings released Tuesday for a U.S.-based clinical trial of anti-parasite drug ivermectin found that the mortality rate for coronavirus patients fell 40%, according to the Medrxiv.org site. The ivermectin study — it began in March as part of a larger Australian-led clinical study — focused on 280 patients, 173 of whom were treated with the drug at four Broward County, Florida, hospitals. The dose given the COVID-19 patients was the same as the FDA-approved dose used to treat patients with intestinal parasites.

  • Another new study revealed that coronavirus patients who were severely ill with COVID-19 were 45% less likely to die after being given the drug tocilizumab, an interleukin-6 receptor inhibitor, that has used to treat arthritis. According to the U.K.’s Daily Mail, patients given doses of the drug slashed their risk of dying in half compared to those who didn’t receive the medication.

Superspreaders Blamed for Rapid Spread of Coronavirus Infections

At the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, many researchers believed an infected individual can only spread the disease to a few people, but a new study shows that some individuals, known as “superspreaders,” can infect an undetermined amount of people. The study, conducted by Tel Aviv University’s School of Molecular Cell Biology and Biotechnology, showed that over 80 percent of 200 Israeli were infected by foreign superspreaders. A similar Chinese study published on the website Research Square also showed the majority of those infected came from a number of superspreaders. The researchers also found 70 percent of those tested with the coronavirus didn’t pass it on to anyone else. “The normal person in the pre-shutdown days would have infected three or four other people. Superspreaders can infect 30 or 40, there’s one guy who infected 113 people in New York,” said George Rutherford, a professor of epidemiology at UC San Francisco.

COVID-19 Lockdown Blueprint for Permanent Shutdown to ‘Save the Planet”

Some ambitious activists see the lockdown as a blueprint or dress rehearsal for a total energy, economic and lifestyle transformation to “save the planet.” If three months of Covid lockdowns can reduce fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions, they argue, permanent fossil fuel bans are possible, essential and should be undertaken immediately, reports the Cornwall Alliance. “Five years ago, former UN official Christiana Figueres said the real goal of climate actions was to “intentionally transform the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years” – and replace it with socialist-environmentalist global governance. Others want to use climate change as a pretext for dictating how global wealth and resources will be redistributed.”

Contact Tracing May Lead to Forced Detentions

Despite U.S. Attorney General William Barr having stated unequivocally that stay-at-home orders are “unprecedented burdens on civil liberties,” it appears that the liberties of U.S. citizens are increasingly at risk due to extraordinary COVID-19 contact tracking measures being put in place in many states. Johns Hopkins University’s online training for COVID-19 trackers states that once trainees have identified persons who have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, they are to advise them to self-quarantine for 14 days.  For those who actually have the virus, they are to be counseled to self-isolate for 10 days. However, “in some circumstances, these requests may be mandated and enforced.” Washington State Governor Jay Inslee has already stated that people who refuse to cooperate with contact tracers or refuse COVID-19 testing won’t be allowed to leave their homes.

  • Singapore plans to give a wearable device that will identify people who had interacted with carriers of coronavirus to each of its 5.7 million residents, in what could become one of the most comprehensive contact-tracing efforts globally.

Some States Moving Toward Forced Vaccinations

Right now, two states are pushing to reduce or eliminate religious freedom exemptions for vaccines, reports Liberty Counsel. In addition, one state is pushing a shocking “re-education” class on parents who decline or delay their state’s vaccination schedule. Already five states have zero religious exemptions for vaccinations. A legislative committee in Colorado voted 20-14 to reduce available exemptions on vaccinations for school-age children. This bill offers “online education modules” for parents. Currently, New York, California, Mississippi, West Virginia, and Maine deny all vaccine exemptions based on religious belief.

21 States Have Granted Nursing Homes Immunity from Lawsuits

Twenty-one states have enacted orders that grant nursing homes immunity from most lawsuits, depriving potential plaintiffs of the ability to uncover an accounting of their relatives’ last days. Since March, federal officials have curtailed routine inspections and restricted visitors in homes, leaving families to peer through windows or plead for information over the phone. As nursing home residents die from covid-19, families say the lawsuit protections are hiding the truth. Investigations have shown many nursing homes to be in violation of standard protocols against infections.

NYC Finally Starts to Reopen but Faces Trifecta of Problems

After 78 days of coronavirus stay-at-home orders and a death toll larger than all but six countries, New York City begins to reopen Monday. Now, New York and cities across the country must reckon with a combination of coronavirus, vast unemployment and racial unrest — a toxic trifecta that most deeply hurts black communities, notes CNN. Once the epicenter of the pandemic as the largest and densest city in the US, New York City enters phase one of its reopening plan Monday, allowing nonessential workers in construction and manufacturing to go back to work and retail stores to set up curbside or in-store pickup. Still, hair salons, offices and indoor seating at bars and restaurants remain off-limits until the next reopening phase. And Broadway shows, museums and large cultural gatherings are still far off.

Airbnb Bookings Increasing

After months of cabin fever during the pandemic, Americans are starting to get away again, and it’s reportedly causing a spike in Airbnb vacation rentals. The number of nights booked in the USA was higher from May 17 to June 3 compared with the same weeks in 2019. Similar domestic holiday booking trends are happening in other countries, including Germany, Portugal and South Korea, Bloomberg reported. The travel industry across the world was rocked by the fallout from the coronavirus as people were instructed to stay at home. In May, Airbnb let go of 25% of its workforce after people curtailed plans to rent properties belonging to strangers.

Restaurants Hiring Again.

Dunkin’ (Donuts is no longer part of its official name) is adding 25,000 new jobs as more of the country reopens following closings related to the coronavirus pandemic. The fast-food chain announced Monday it’s launching its “first-ever national restaurant employee recruitment advertising campaign” to help fill the positions at its franchises nationwide. Overall, restaurants added 1.2 million jobs in May for a total of 8.7 million, up 16.5%.

Food Deserts Increasing

The coronavirus has made it harder for everyone to buy food and other essential items under stay-at-home orders, social distancing guidelines. But even before the pandemic, millions of people in the United States were struggling with access to groceries — now the problem has gotten even worse for them. An estimated 39 million people, or 12.8% of the U.S. population, live in “low income and low access areas,” according to the USDA’s most recent data. Such areas are commonly known as food deserts. In Georgia, the number of residents now living in “food insecure” areas has jumped 69% since the beginning of the pandemic, according to data firm Urban Footprint. In Louisiana, Mississippi and Kentucky the number of residents living in food insecure areas has spiked 43%, 36% and 118% respectively, driven by the rise in unemployment.

Study Says Lockdowns Prevented Over 60 Million Infections in U.S.

With states across the U.S. emerging from lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic in varying stages, a newly published study suggests the lockdowns prevented approximately 60 million infections across the country. The research, published in the scientific journal Nature, comes from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, who looked at six countries –­ China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, France and the U.S. –­ and found that “anti-contagion policies” had a significant effect on the number of coronavirus cases in each country. “In the absence of policy actions, we estimate that early infections of COVID-19 exhibit exponential growth rates of roughly 38 [percent] per day,” researchers wrote in the study. In addition to the approximately 60 million infections that were prevented in the U.S., the researchers found 285 million infections were prevented in China, 38 million were prevented in South Korea, 49 million were prevented in Italy, 54 million were prevented in Iran and 45 million were prevented in France.

Coronavirus Surges Again at Meat Plants

Coronavirus outbreaks at U.S. meatpacking plants continue to soar as the beleaguered industry ramps up production, scales back plant closures and tries to return to normal in the weeks after President Donald Trump declared it an essential operation. Trump’s April 28th executive order followed the industry’s dire warnings of meat shortages and invoked the Defense Production Act to compel slaughterhouses and processing plants to remain open. Meat production, which had briefly tanked, quickly rebounded. But the number of coronavirus cases tied to meatpacking plants has more than doubled since then, topping 20,400 infections across 216 plants in 33 states. At least 74 people have died.

UN Confuses World About Masks/Asymptomatic Spread

It’s an issue that’s been argued about for months, both by experts and by people strolling through parks all over the world: Can people who don’t feel sick spread the coronavirus, and if so should we all be wearing masks to stop it? Even the World Health Organization can’t seem to get it straight. On Tuesday the U.N. health agency scrambled to explain seemingly contradictory comments it has made in recent days about the two related issues. The confusion and mixed messages only makes controlling the pandemic that much more difficult, experts say.

Don’t Wash Food with Bleach Solutions

A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said 19% of Americans are washing their fruits and vegetables with a bleach solution. Dr. Tamika Sims, the Director of Food Technology Communications at the International Food Information Council said that using bleach to disinfect food is not only unnecessary, it can be harmful. “Bleach is not meant to be used to clean any foods or food products,” she told Insider. “The ingestion of any amount of bleach can be a major health hazard… it is unlikely you will get infected by the virus from your groceries.”

Coronavirus Added $1.2 Trillion to Federal Deficit So Far

The coronavirus has added $1.2 trillion to the budget deficit over the last two months, according to the latest numbers Monday that detail how the government has used cash to try to combat the pandemic and its economic catastrophe. In April and May alone, the government spent $1.6 trillion, while collecting just $416 billion in new revenue, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Those numbers have helped fuel what’s already by far the worst year on record in terms of government finances. Through just the first eight months of the fiscal year, the government’s total shortfall is about $1.9 trillion — or nearly double CBO’s original projection for the full year — with four months still to go and hundreds of billions of dollars in new coronavirus relief still in the pipeline.

Economic News

It’s official: The United States is in a recession. The National Bureau of Economic Research said Monday the U.S. economy peaked in February, ending the longest expansion in U.S. history at 128 months, or about 10½ years. States began shutting down nonessential businesses in mid-March to contain the spread of the coronavirus, halting about 30% of economic activity and putting tens of millions of Americans out of work.

The Congressional Budget Office said Monday that the federal deficit grew to $424 billion in May, which is more than twice the amount of the shortfall in May 2019. For the first eight months of the fiscal year, which started in October, the deficit totaled $1.9 trillion. During the same time frame in 2019, the deficit was just $739 billion. Federal spending was up 53% last month, totaling $598 billion, as Congress approved economic relief measures to help businesses impacted by virus lockdowns. Meanwhile, tax revenues are way down.

Thousands of Americans are staring at the abyss of homelessness as states begin to lift moratoriums on evictions that have been in place since the start of the pandemic three months ago. So far, 24 states are now processing evictions again, and that number is expected to climb to at least 30 states by the end of June.

The prices of food consumed at home rose 1% in May from April (an annual rate of 0ver 12%) even as overall prices declined 0.1%, according to seasonally-adjusted figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The increase was driven mainly by a 3.7% increase in meat, poultry, fish and eggs. Consumers paid nearly 11% more in May for beef and veal. Uncooked beef roasts soared 19.5%, and uncooked beef steak prices jumped 11.6%.

The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that it expects gross domestic product to fall by 6.5 percent for this year, but added the economy would grow again by 5 percent next year and 3.5 percent in 2022.

Jihadists Kill 58 in Attacks Targeting Christians in Burkina Faso

Christians were among those targeted and killed when armed jihadists launched three separate attacks within 48 hours in the West African country of Burkina Faso that left at least 58 dead. Fifteen were killed when a convoy of traders, including children, was attacked while travelling from Titao to Sollé, in Loroum province, on 29 May. On 30 May, armed Islamist militants opened fire at random in a cattle market in Kompienga province, killing at least 30 people and injuring many others. On the same day, a humanitarian convoy was attacked by extremists in Barsalogho, Sanmatenga province, claiming the lives of six civilians and seven soldiers. Another 20 people were injured and a number were reported missing.

Israeli Supreme Court Delivers Blow to Settlements

The 8-to-1 vote on Tuesday of Israel’s High Court to strike down a 2017 law that legalized homes built on “Palestinian land” sparked anger among Israel’s right-wing, which has questioned not only the timing – coming as it does on the eve of annexation – but the legal reasoning behind it. Some 2,000 Jewish homes were found to have been built either wholly or partially on such land.  The 2017 law protected those homes from destruction and their residents from eviction by compensating the land’s owner, even when the “owner” claiming the land had no legal proof to support his claim. Now, they are faced with possible eviction.

Canada Opposes Israeli Annexation of Judea and Samaria

Last week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned Israel’s plan to annex parts of Judea and Samaria. “I’ve been very direct with the Israeli leaders,” Trudeau said during his Tuesday coronavirus briefing. “We deplore such actions, which are going to delay any prospect of lasting peace in the Middle East.” Canada’s foreign minister, François-Philippe Champagne, said he would pressure Israel to abandon its plan to annex parts of Judea and Samaria, reports the Palestinian Authority’s WAFA news outlet. Later in June, a vote will be held among UN member states on whether to grant Canada a seat on the Security Council.

New Ebola Outbreak in the Congo

A country that’s already battling the coronavirus and experiencing the world’s largest measles outbreak is now reporting a new outbreak of Ebola. The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo this week announced a new outbreak of Ebola in the city of Mbandaka. At least six cases of the deadly disease, which causes fever, abdominal pain, and bleeding, have been confirmed there. Four people have died while two are receiving treatment, the World Health Organization said in a statement. However, officials said more cases are likely to be identified in the coming days as “surveillance activities increase.”

Threat of Military Action Rattles Brazil as Virus Deaths Surge

As Brazil reels from its worst crisis in decades, President Bolsonaro and his allies are using the prospect of military intervention to protect his grip on power, reports the New York Times. The crisis has grown so intense that some of the most powerful military figures in Brazil are warning of instability — sending shudders that they could take over and dismantle Latin America’s largest democracy. Deaths from the coronavirus in Brazil each day are now the highest in the world.

Amazon Deforestation Soars as Pandemic Hobbles Enforcement

Illegal loggers, miners and land grabbers have cleared vast areas of the Amazon with impunity in recent months as law enforcement efforts were hobbled by the pandemic. Those recently cleared areas will almost certainly make way for a rash of fires even more widespread and devastating than the ones that drew global outrage last year, notes the New York Times. The newly cleared patches are typically set ablaze during the drier months of August to October to prepare the land for cattle grazing, often spiraling out of control into wildfires.

Yellowstone Supervolcano Calming Down

Fears of the Yellowstone supervolcano erupting had recently been ramping up, but a newly released study suggests that the hotspot may actually be waning. The research, published earlier this month in the journal Geology, suggest the intensity of the hotspot is waning drastically. “It therefore seems that the Yellowstone hotspot has experienced a three-fold decrease in its capacity to produce super-eruption events,” said the study’s lead study author, Thomas Knott, in a statement. “This is a very significant decline.”

Earthquakes

A small earthquake, rated magnitude 2.7, rattled portions of northern California Tuesday morning, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The quake, which hit at 6:32 a.m. PT, was centered near the campus of the University of California, Berkeley. The quake occurred along the Hayward Fault, which the U.S. Geological Survey considers to be one of the most dangerous in the world due to its proximity to heavily populated areas.

Wildfires

There are 8 wildfires burning in Arizona as of Tuesday morning. So far, they have consumed 56.681 acres, but no structures have been lost. Five wildfires are active in New Mexico, with 2,560 acres burnt. The Southwest saw high temperatures last week and low humidity with high winds that subsequently drove the temps back down helping to keep the fires from spreading too rapidly.

Weather

An unusual summertime snowstorm buried parts of Colorado and Wyoming on Tuesday in heavy, wet snow that piled up in higher elevations and even closed some roads. The NWS reported between 4 to 8 inches of snow through parts of Wyoming, while Wyoming Department of Transportation crews said a foot fell along parts of Interstate 80. Several roadways, including I-80, WYO 210, and U.S. 287 were closed for several hours due to the wintry conditions.

At least one tornado spawned by Tropical Storm Cristobal touched down in the Orlando area Saturday night. Several power lines were down on the southeast side of the city. There were reports of damage to residential areas. Several other possible tornadoes were reported across Central Florida as a large feeder band from Cristobal.

A derecho packing winds in excess of 75 mph moved across Wyoming and Colorado Saturday, damaging homes and knocking down trees and power lines. The storms produced several hurricane-force wind gusts, including a 110 mph gust in Winter Park, Colorado. Winds up to 99 mph were reported in Great Divide, Colorado, and 81 mph in Rock Springs, Wyoming. A 78 mph wind gust was reported at Denver International Airport. The derecho is a line of strong thunderstorms that produces hundreds of miles of straight-line wind damage.

Signs of the Times (6/5/20)

June 5, 2020

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? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also. (1John 4:20-21)

Defying Predictions of Historic Losses, Economy gains 2.5M jobs and Unemployment Drops to 13.3%

The economy unexpectedly gained 2.5 million jobs in May after record losses the prior month as states began allowing businesses shuttered by the coronavirus to reopen and many Americans returned to work. May’s startling increase in payrolls upended virtually every economist’s predictions for another month of massive losses, The unemployment rate fell to 13.3% from April’s 14.7%, which was the highest since the Great Depression. The report shows that state reopenings triggered a swifter rebound than anticipated. Stocks soared at the good news. “We’re bringing our jobs back,” President Trump said to members of the media in the Rose Garden.

  • “It’s the greatest thing that can happen for race relations, for the African American community, for the Asian American, for the Hispanic American community, for women, for everything,” Trump said about the jobs numbers when asked if he had a plan to address systemic racism in the United States.

Black Income & Wealth Far Lower Than that for Whites, Virus Deaths Higher

The typical non-Hispanic black household has accumulated only about 10% the wealth of a typical non-Hispanic white family. That gap stems in part from lower rates of home ownership and smaller inheritances among blacks. Another reason why it’s more difficult for black families to save and build wealth is because they earn 60% less than whites on average. The unemployment rate for black Americans also exceeds that of whites (16.7% vs. 14.2%), although this gap has declined in recent years. On top of that, the COVID-19 is three times more likely to kill someone in a black community than it is in a white community.

  • Although more whites are killed by police than blacks, as a proportion of total population, blacks are still more likely to be killed than whites.

Minneapolis Police Use Force Against Blacks More than Whites

About 20% of Minneapolis’s population of 430,000 is black. But when the police get physical — with kicks, neck holds, punches, shoves, takedowns, Mace, Tasers or other forms of muscle — nearly 60% of the time the recipient of that force is black, according to the city’s own figures. Community leaders say the frequency with which the police use force against black residents helps explain the fury goes beyond Floyd’s death. Since 2015, the Minneapolis police have documented using force about 11,500 times – 6,650 times against blacks versus 2,750 for whites, reports the New York Times.

Defense Chief Doesn’t Support Using Military to Quell Riots

In contradiction of President Trump, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Wednesday that he does not support using active duty troops to quell the large-scale protests across the United States triggered by the death of George Floyd and those forces should only be used in a law enforcement role as a last resort. President Donald Trump recently threatened to deploy the military to enforce order under the Insurrection Act.

AG Barr Blames ‘Extremist Agitators’ for Strife in Nation

Attorney General William Barr said Thursday that foreign interests and “extremist agitators” affiliated with groups like Antifa have sought to widen divisions in U.S. society following the George Floyd protests. Barr said most protesters were peaceful demonstrators, but the Justice Department has found evidence that “extremist agitators” were hijacking protests to “pursue their own separate and violent agenda.” He said the Justice Department is receiving intelligence daily on efforts to turn protests violent and is deploying resources to get ahead of those threats.

  • The U.S. Park Police chief said that they and the Secret Service found “baseball bats & metal poles hidden along the street” near the White House. Smoke canisters & pepper balls were used to disperse the rioters and successfully prevented the secreted weapons from being used.
  • Videos emerging on social media claim to show stacks of bricks in the middle of some protest locations. Breaking911, a Twitter handle with nearly 700,000 followers, posted that “videos continue to surface showing protesters stumbling upon pallets of bricks or pavers in areas with no construction taking place.” Kansas City police also reported discovering such stashes of bricks and rocks near planned protest sites.
  • New York’s deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, John Miller, believes anarchist and radical left groups have been stoking the fury in his city. “They prepared to commit property damage and directed people who were following them that this should be done selectively and only in wealthier areas or at high-end stores run by corporate entities.”
  • A number of Los Angeles synagogues have been vandalized or even destroyed during the riots. One witness reported that, “I saw a PLO flag and them shouting to ‘free Palestine.’ I don’t think it was black protesters who did this damage,” he said.

Over 360 Minneapolis Businesses Destroyed by Riots

Minnesota’s Star Tribune newspaper published a list of over 360 businesses across the Twin Cities that have been “vandalized, looted or had doors and windows smashed” in the wake of violent protest over the tragic death of George Floyd while in police custody. Some have been reduced to rubble, and at least 66 have been destroyed completely by fire. Others have reported extensive water damage or severe fire damage,” the paper reported. More businesses are expected to be added to the list as the investigation continues.

Confederate Statues Coming Down

The statue of Robert E. Lee has towered over Richmond for more than 100 years. In recent days, though, it’s been conveying a different message, with “Black lives matter” now covering its stone pedestal. Protesters on Monument Avenue have circled the Lee statue and four others, demanding that these symbols of slavery be taken down. On Thursday, Governor Ralph Northam announced they would indeed be coming down.

Giant “Black Lives Matter” Mural Painted Near White House

Muralists painted “BLACK LIVES MATTER” in large yellow paint covering two blocks of 16th Street in Washington, D.C. Friday, just in front of Lafayette Park, the site of protests over the past week against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Municipal dump trucks blocked off the street, preventing cars from passing through as people painted the street-width letters. The painting of the mural was at the direction of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, according to her chief of staff, who said the mayor wanted to make it “abundantly clear” the street belonged to the city. That was in reaction to President Trump threatening to take over the city if they couldn’t stop the rioting and looting. On Friday, Mayor Bowser formally renamed 16th Street NW, the street outside the White House, as Black Lives Matter Plaza.

Twitter Blocks Trump Tribute to George Floyd

Twitter has blocked a Trump campaign video tribute to George Floyd over a copyright claim, in a move that adds to tensions between the social media platform and the U.S. president, one of its most widely followed users. The video was still up on President Donald Trump’s YouTube channel. The three minute and 45 second clip is a montage of photos and videos of peaceful marches and police officers hugging protesters interspersed with some scenes of burning buildings and vandalism, set to gentle piano music and Trump speaking.

Coronavirus Cases Worldwide Multiply at Fastest Pace Yet

The coronavirus pandemic is ebbing in some of the countries that were hit hard early on, but the number of new cases is growing faster than ever worldwide, with more than 100,000 reported each day. Twice as many countries have reported a rise in new cases over the past two weeks as have reported declines, according to a New York Times database. The increase has been driven by emerging hot spots in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The increases in some countries can be attributed to improved testing programs. Overall, there have been more than 6.3 million reported cases worldwide and more than 380,000 known deaths.

  • Israel reported 116 coronavirus diagnoses in one day, leading to the closure of five more schools in central Israel whose students tested positive for the virus, the largest coronavirus spike in over a month, leading to concerns that Israel might reinstitute the strict lockdown that only recently was lifted.
  • Arizona saw its highest case count thus far with 1,579 on Thursday, exceeding the previous high of 1,127 on June 2. Prior to June, the highest daily total had been 790 on 5/30.

U.S. Will have 100 Million Doses of Vaccine for Covid-19 by 2021

The United States should have 100 million doses of one candidate coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said Tuesday. However, it’s still not clear whether the vaccine will be effective against the novel coronavirus. Fauci said the first vaccine candidate, made by biotech company Moderna in partnership with NIAID, should go into a final stage of trials in volunteers` by mid-summer.

Medical Journal Retracts Anti-Hydroxychloroquine Warnings

The British medical journal The Lancet announced Thursday it has retracted a study that claimed that COVID-19 patients who took hydroxychloroquine had a higher mortality rate and increased heart problems compared with those who did not take it, stating that the authors were “unable to complete an independent audit of the data underpinning their analysis.” The study, which claimed to have data from 96,000 patients on six continents, led several governments to ban the use of the anti-malarial drug for coronavirus patients due to safety concerns. Almost 150 doctors signed an open letter to The Lancet last week, calling the article’s conclusions into question.

Accuracy of In-Home Coronavirus Tests Questioned

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized the emergency use of six at-home collection kits to test for the coronavirus, but experts say their accuracy and affordability is in question. Some of the newer test kits use saliva samples, while others require a more invasive nasal or throat swab. The kits are much-needed additions to our sparse testing resources, but the samples collected still need to be sent to laboratories to get results, reported The Wall Street Journal. According to the Journal, sales of these COVID-19 tests could reach as high as $816 billion this year. One of the downsides, however, is their accuracy. While some test kit manufacturers send professional healthcare workers to the home to extract samples, people who take their own samples may invite too many variables that can taint the results, experts say.

U.S. to Block Chinese Airlines from Flying into the U.S.

The U.S. government says it will block Chinese airlines from flying into the U.S. in response to what it says is a policy that has prevented US carriers from service between the two countries. The Transportation Department restrictions will take effect June 16 but could be enacted earlier if President Donald Trump decides to do so. It says the Chinese government is violating an agreement between the two countries for international travel by preventing United Airlines and Delta Air Lines from resuming the trans-oceanic flights.

Economic News

About 1.9 million Americans filed initial unemployment benefit claims last week, even as all 50 states begin reopening their economies. Over the past 11 weeks, more than 41 million workers have sought jobless benefits, with a high of 6.9 million reported on March 28.. Before the pandemic, only 211 thousand applied for unemployment benefits the week of March 7.

The coronavirus relief money, which began rolling out in April, has been sent to 159 million Americans, according to the Internal Revenue Service on Wednesday. The IRS said millions of low-income people, homeless people and others who aren’t required to file a tax return may still be eligible for an Economic Impact Payment. But they will need to take some action to give the IRS information on where to send the money.

Before this crisis even began, state pension plans across the country were already more than $1 trillion short of the funding needed to pay their future obligations to retirees. Now, with stocks well below recent highs and state and local government budgets crunched due to the coronavirus, public pensions are suddenly at risk of even greater shortfalls.

Along with millions of unemployed Americans, Starbucks is worried about being able to pay its rent. Retailers such as Bed Bath & Beyond and the Gap have already stopped paying theirs, as have countless businesses large and small during the economic crisis. Nearly half of commercial rents were unpaid in May — setting up a dangerous chain reaction that could push landlords into bankruptcy, depress property values and freeze commercial credit markets.

AMC Theatres, the world’s biggest movie theater chain, said on Wednesday that it has “substantial doubt” it can remain in business after closing locations across the globe during the coronavirus pandemic. The theater chain, expects to have lost between $2.1 billion and $2.4 billion in the first quarter. AMC said they will have serious challenges even if lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Chinese Government Shuts Down 48 Churches in Two Weeks

In April, at least 48 Three-Self Churches were shut down by the local government in Yugan County, according to Bitter Winter, a magazine on religious rights and human rights in China. Yugan County’s “large number of believers,” makes According to the Christian Post, Yugan county has a population of over 1 million people, in which more than 10 percent are Protestants who attend over 300 officially registered Three-Self churches. it “one of the key targets of the CCP’s religious persecution.”

Jihadists Murder 27 in Attacks on Christian Villages in Mali

Heavily-armed jihadists murdered 27 people in attacks on Christian villages in Mali. Seven were killed, some burned alive, in the village of Tillé. Another 20 ethnic Dogon villagers were shot or burned to death in neighbouring Bankass and Koro, local officials said. Since 2016, jihadists have been waging a war to occupy north and central Mali with the declared aim of establishing sharia (Islamic law) throughout the country.

Palestinian officials Say They Will Respond to Israeli Annexation with Violence

Palestinian officials warned that any move by Israel to annex settlements in parts of Judea and Samaria will result in Palestinian violence. The Hamas terror group said annexation would be a reason for the spilling of blood, with Hamas official Maher Salah telling a Hamas news website that annexation “is a real threat to the Palestinian national project, and will open new doors of conflict and will increase the fire … we will protect it with our blood.” Earlier, a top adviser to Abbas hinted that a unilateral Israeli move to impose sovereignty over territory Palestinians say should be theirs might lead to a renewal of suicide bombings. Others have called for a ‘third intifada.’

  • S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) warned on Thursday that if Israel were to apply sovereignty to parts of Judea and Samaria, that it would undermine U.S. national security and upend Democratic support for the Jewish state.

Italy Opens Borders to Tourists

Facing its worst recession since World War II, Italy reopened its borders to international travelers Wednesday as part of a larger effort to draw in tourism dollars and give recently reopened businesses an added boost after they were shuttered for nearly three months during the coronavirus lockdown. But other European nations think Italy’s move is too premature and don’t plan to reopen their borders until June 15.

Wuhan Tests Almost Entire City, Finds 300 Asymptomatic Cases

The Chinese city where the coronavirus originated claimed Tuesday that a massive testing effort targeting nearly all of its 11 million residents has resulted in just 300 new cases – all of which are asymptomatic. Wuhan also found no infections among 1,174 close contacts of the 300 people who tested positive, suggesting they were not spreading it easily to others.

Sweden’s Lack of Lockdown Yields High Deaths per Capita

Sweden’s decision not to lockdown the country resulted in one of the highest per capita COVID-19 death rates in the world. Sweden, a nation of 10.2 million people, has seen 4,542 deaths linked to COVID-19, which is far more than its Nordic neighbors and one of the highest per capita death rates in the world. Denmark has had 580 coronavirus deaths, Finland has seen 320 and Norway has had 237, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Sweden stood out among European nations and the world by not shutting down the country or the economy like other nations but relying on citizens’ sense of civic duty. Swedish authorities advised people to practice social distancing, but schools, bars and restaurants were kept open the entire time. Only gatherings of more than 50 people were banned.

Australia Experiences First Recession in Nearly 30 Years

Australia’s economy is suffering its first recession in nearly three decades as the nation grapples with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The country’s economy shrank 0.3% in the first three months of the year from the previous quarter. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Wednesday warned that Gross Domestic Product will shrink in the April-to-June period, marking the second consecutive quarter of contraction. Recession is defined by two straight quarterly drops in GDP.

Russia Declares State of Emergency After Oil Spill

A massive oil spill in Siberia is being called “Russia’s Exxon Valdez”—and Vladimir Putin is furious with a company that allegedly failed to report it. The Russian leader declared a state of emergency in the region Wednesday and slammed executives at Norilsk Nickel, the BBC reports. Officials said Krasnoyarsk governor Alexander Uss only found out about the spill on Sunday, two days after it happened, when “alarming information appeared in social media.” Authorities say around 20,000 tons of diesel oil from a power plant leaked into the Ambarnaya River, north of the Arctic Circle, turning long stretches of it red.

Women are Being Murdered in Mexico at an Alarming Rate

Since stay-at-home measures were ordered March 23 to slow the spread of the coronavirus, there has been an increase in homicides where women are the victims, according to government data released last week. April was the deadliest month in the last five years with a record 267 murders of women. Overall, 987 women and girls were murdered in the first four months of 2020, according to government data. Of those incidents, 308 are categorized as femicides, according to Mexico’s Secretary of Security and Citizen Protection based on specific evidence a woman was killed because of her gender.

Environment

Hundreds of millions of gallons of raw sewage made its way into the Pearl River near Jackson, Mississippi, during the first quarter of the year, a period that saw excessive rainfall and flooding in the region. Overflows of Jackson’s West Bank Interceptor occurs when water flow exceeds the pumping capacity of the Savanna Wastewater Treatment Plant. Jackson Department of Public Works director Bob Miller said, “There’s all sorts of things in that flood water that you don’t want to be exposed to.”

Vast swaths of the world’s largest mangrove forest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Sundarban delta that spans parts of India and Bangladesh, were dealt a potentially devastating blow when Tropical Cyclone Amphan crashed over the coasts of both countries. The damage is in the Indian portion of the Sundarbans, which helps protect the densely populated city of Kolkata from some of the worst impacts of cyclones that frequently hit the region. The Sundarban delta is dotted by 102 islands, including 54 that are inhabited. The region spans a total of about 4,000 square miles and is not only ecologically important due to the mangrove forests, but is also home to the largest population of wild tigers in the world. The Sundarbans were declared a World Heritage Site in 1987.

Wildfires

Fire crews battled a wildfire that destroyed several homes in a Northern California town amid triple-digit temperatures on Wednesday. Residents were told to leave their homes in a Suisun City neighborhood as the Wildlife Fire grew and burned structures. Five homes were destroyed by the fire, seven others were damaged and upwards of 100 more were threatened. Hot, dry, windy conditions are expected again Thursday.

Weather

Tropical Depression Cristobal may have weakened, but it’s continuing to bring heavy rains and life-threatening flooding to Mexico and Guatemala. Forecasts call for it to regain strength when it moves back into the Gulf of Mexico and turns north toward the U.S. this weekend. While making its U.S. landfall as a tropical storm remains most likely, it is possible Cristobal could strengthen into a weak Category 1 hurricane. Most projections call for a landfall in Louisiana but a few models put Cristobal farther east into Florida’s Panhandle.

Wind damage was widespread and killed at least three people as a powerful line of storms moved through the mid-Atlantic on Wednesday. Wind gusts as high as 89 mph were reported in the region as the storms plowed through, leaving widespread tree damage in some Philadelphia suburbs. As the storms marched eastward, tree and power line damage was also reported in several parts of New Jersey. The deaths occurred in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, in separate incidents involving falling trees. More than 575,000 customers lost power in the affected states.