Archive for July, 2020

Signs of the Times (7/29/20)

July 29, 2020

They set [the disciples] before the council. And the high priest asked them, saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!” But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:27-29)

Pastor John MacArthur Vows to Open His CA Church

Pastor and renowned author John MacArthur said his church will no longer bow to CA Gov. Gavin Newsom’s attempt to crush worship – even in private homes. As recently as May, MacArthur stated that churches should comply with these draconian orders, reports Liberty Counsel. Back then, the false information was that millions of people would die and that the church closures would be short-lived. Neither turned out to be true. His church has been closed for 21-weeks during which time there were no funerals, weddings or interaction with several thousand young people. Tragically, he shared that he has not been able to visit people in the hospital, even those who were dying. MacArthur said that depression and calls to suicide hotlines have dramatically increased. And he said Gov. Newsom is allowing tens of thousands of people to gather together in protests while simultaneously banning worship.

Supreme Court Rules for Casinos over Churches

The Supreme Court ruled late Friday that Nevada can impose tighter restrictions on churches than casinos. The 5-4 ruling included dissents from conservative justices who said limiting church gatherings to 50 worshipers while allowing bars, restaurants, casinos and indoor amusement parks to operate at 50% capacity violates freedom of religion. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four liberal justices in turning aside a challenge from a Nevada church. The same five justices ruled the same way in May, when a California church sought to exceed a 25% capacity threshold under the theory that local businesses were allowed to do so. In that case, Roberts said religious observances are comparable to public assemblies, not secular businesses. The dissenting justices wrote a 24-page complaint that churches were not being treated equally with public assemblies in violation of the First Amendment.

Over 40 People Test Positive for Coronavirus after Alabama Revival

More than 40 people were infected with the coronavirus after attending a multi-day revival event at a north Alabama Baptist church. “The whole church has got it, just about,” said Pastor Daryl Ross of Warrior Creek Missionary Baptist Church in Marshall County. Ross said the services were shut down by Friday after learning that one of the members who attended had tested positive for the virus. The member presented no symptoms, but got tested when several of his coworkers received positive tests, according to the pastor. Over the weekend, dozens more fell ill, Ross said, adding: “I’ve got church members sick everywhere.”

Social Media Bans Video from Doctors Promoting Hydroxychloroquine

A video viewed millions of times, which showed doctors championing hydroxychloroquine as an effective treatment for the coronavirus and blasting the “spider web of fear” the virus has caused Americans, was swiftly removed from YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook for violating the sites’ respective COVID-19 “misinformation” policies. The banned video, originally posted by Breitbart News, was removed despite going viral. It shows a press conference held this Monday in front of the U.S. Supreme Court by the group America’s Frontline Doctors in Washington, D.C. The group is in D.C. for its “White Coat Summit” event, which was organized and sponsored by the Tea Party Patriots and Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.). The doctors’ group claims that “American life has fallen casualty to a massive disinformation campaign… but the purpose of the inaugural White Coat Summit is to empower Americans to stop living in fear.”

Evidence Mounting that Young People are Infecting their Elders

Evidence is growing that young people who work outside the home, or who surged into bars and restaurants when states relaxed shutdowns, are infecting their more vulnerable elders, especially family members, reports the Washington Post. Front-line caregivers, elected officials and experts in Houston, South Florida and elsewhere say they are seeing patterns of hospitalization and death that confirm fears this would happen. Young adults are among the essential workers who may be returning home to parents and grandparents. Ethnically diverse parts of the Sun Belt, where caseloads are climbing fast, are home to a larger share of multigenerational families who live together than other sections of the United States.

Teachers’ Union Warns of ‘Safety Strikes’ if Schools Don’t Reopen Safely

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is threatening “safety strikes” if talks over reopening schools don’t meet demands for keeping teachers and students safe from the coronavirus. The AFT, the country’s second largest teachers’ union, released a report last week outlining the cost to safely reopen public schools amid the pandemic. About $262 billion will be needed to ensure students are socially distanced, according to the report. “If authorities don’t protect the safety and health of those we represent and those we serve… nothing is off the table — not advocacy or protests, negotiations, grievances or lawsuits, or, if necessary and authorized by a local union, as a last resort, safety strikes,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten.

Parents Forming Homeschooling Pods

Families across the U.S. are scrambling to create homeschooling pods – a modern version of a one-room schoolhouse, with a small group of parents splitting the cost of hiring teachers. Among the hurdles are logistics, such as finding families with children of the same age as their own, and finances. By pooling resources, the families expect to pay several hundred dollars a month to hire teachers, tutors and pay for resources like online classes through programs such as Outschool, which was founded in 2015 and has seen a 30-fold increase in enrollment since the pandemic started.

WebMD Poll: Most Would Wait to Take COVID Vaccine

Fewer than half of Americans plan to get a coronavirus vaccine in the first year it’s available, and an even smaller group — fewer than a third — say they’ll get it in the first 90 days, a new WebMD reader poll finds. Only 26% said they would get the vaccine in the first 90 days. A total of 42% said they would within the first 12 months. “This serves as a wake-up call,” said John Whyte, MD, chief medical officer of WebMD. “If immunization rates are low, then we’re not going to achieve the level of herd immunity needed to protect us from this virus.” As more than 165 companies are racing to develop and test an effective vaccine, people question the ability to create one so quickly that can work well and be safe.

Child Hospitalizations Increase in Florida

Just weeks before schools have been ordered to open across Florida, the numbers of new cases and hospitalizations of children due to Covid-19 have surged. On July 16, the state had a total of 23,170 children ages 17 and under who had tested positive since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the Florida Department of Health. By July 24, that number jumped to 31,150. That’s a 34% increase in new cases among children in eight days. As of July 16, 246 children had been hospitalized with coronavirus. By July 24, that number had jumped to 303, a 23% increase. Five have died.

Five Factors Increase Covid Severity by 40%

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just released a report that says model-based estimates show the prevalence any of five underlying medical conditions could increase the risk for severe COVID-19 illness. The CDC said as many as 40.7% of American adults aged 18 or older are at increased risk because they have these medical conditions. According to Forbes, statistically, obesity is most common risk factor for severe disease with over 30% of the population affected. Those with diabetes account for 11.2%, while both cardiovascular and pulmonary disease are just below 7%. People with chronic kidney disease account for 3% of Americans at increased risk for severe complications from COVID-19 that could result in hospitalization, ICU admission, mechanical ventilation or death.

Latinos Disproportionately Impacted by Covid-19

A new study published Thursday, the first nationwide analysis of COVID-19 cases and deaths among Latinos, concludes that crowded housing arrangements and high-risk jobs in industries like meatpacking, poultry and hospitality are among the major reasons Latinos have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. On a national basis, reports cited by the study indicated Latinos accounted for 33% of the cases even though they make up just under 18% of the population. The New York Times analysis based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows 73 of every 10,000 Latinos contracted the virus, compared to 62 Blacks and 23 whites.

Judge Denies Oregon’s Request to Restrict Federal Agents

Thousands of people gathered in Portland streets hours after a U.S. judge denied Oregon’s request to restrict federal agents’ actions when they arrest people during protests that have roiled the city and pitted local officials against the Trump administration. A persistent crowd of protesters remained outside the federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, into the early hours of Saturday as fireworks were shot at the building and plumes of tear gas, dispensed by U.S. agents, lingered overhead.

Federal Judge Blocks Seattle’s Law Prohibiting Anti-Riot Weapons

In a ruling Friday night, a federal judge blocked a new Seattle law prohibiting police from using pepper spray and other anti-riot weapons. The new law was set to take effect Sunday but U.S. District Judge James Robart granted a request by the federal government to block the measure. The Seattle City Council passed the new law unanimously last month, hoping to reduce violent clashes between police and protesters. But the U.S. Justice Department argued that the inability to use pepper spray, blast balls and other devices might actually lead to more police use of force, not less.

AG Barr & Biden Say Violent Rioters Have Hijacked Peaceful Protests

Attorney General William Barr is defending the aggressive federal law enforcement response to civil unrest in America, saying “violent rioters and anarchists have hijacked legitimate protests.” Barr told members of the House Judiciary Committee at a hearing on Tuesday that the violence taking place in Portland, Ore., and other cities is disconnected from the death of Floyd, which he described as a “horrible” event that prompted a necessary national reckoning on the relationship between the Black community and law enforcement. “Largely absent from these scenes of destruction are even superficial attempts by the rioters to connect their actions to George Floyd’s death or any legitimate call for reform.” Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said Tuesday that law enforcement should protect “peaceful protesters,” while “arsonists and anarchists” should face legal prosecution.

Minneapolis Protester Who Smashed Window is a White Supremacist

Police say that “Umbrella Man,” the apparent protester caught on a viral video smashing the windows of a Minneapolis auto parts store with a sledgehammer while carrying an umbrella, was actually a white supremacist trying to incite rioting. “This was the first fire that set off a string of fires and looting throughout the precinct and the rest of the city,” reads a search warrant affidavit filed in court this week… The actions of this person created an atmosphere of hostility and tension… this individual’s sole aim was to incite violence.”

Seattle Protesters Throw Fireworks and Explosives at Police

Seattle protesters threw large rocks, bottles, fireworks and other explosives at officers Saturday, police said. Others set fire to a portable trailer and a construction site, police said. At least 45 people have been arrested on charges of assaulting officers, obstruction and failure to disperse. Twenty-one officers have been injured from having projectiles thrown at them,. Most officers were able to return to duty, the department’s. One officer was hospitalized with a leg injury caused by an explosive.

Organized and Well-Armed Agitators Roiling Portland Protests

Crowds in several western cities appear to be increasingly armed with ammunition and fireworks, as well as helmets, umbrellas and makeshift shields designed for confronting local law enforcement and federal officers. A bag containing loaded rifle magazines and Molotov cocktails was found at a park near where protests have been staged for two months in Portland, police said. The discovery came just hours after two people were arrested following reports that a shot was fired in the same Portland park.

The Pacific Northwest Youth Liberation Front, an anti-capitalist, anti-fascist group of teens, directed people to use the mobile payment service Venmo to send funds to go toward the bail for seven adults and one juvenile arrested in Eugene, Ore. Saturday.

When U.S. agents declared an unlawful assembly and deployed several rounds of what appeared to be tear gas, flash bangs, and pepper balls from the federal courthouse downtown, the flow of tear gas caused protesters to disperse, some becoming sick even as others remained towards the front of the courthouse with leaf blowers directing the gas back to the courthouse. Federal agents had leaf blowers of their own to counteract.

  • So it’s come down to this – leaf-blower warfare.

Federal Agents Leaving Seattle & Portland

The federal security detail deployed to the city amid ongoing civil unrest withdrew after pressure from state and local officials, Gov. Jay Inslee’s office said Tuesday. Inslee was among those arguing that a show of force by the feds could lead to more violence and the same nightly clashes that are going on in Portland, where federal agents were also deployed,. “I have confirmed with [Customs and Border Protection, which sent the tactical team] that their personnel demobilized and left Seattle,” a Department of Homeland Security official wrote to Seattle officials. The local officials said they were never consulted and never gave consent to the feds’ arrival.

  • Oregon’s Democratic Gov. Kate Brown said Wednesday that federal agents who have clashed with protesters in Portland will begin a “phased withdrawal” from Oregon’s largest city’s downtown area starting on Thursday. Oregon has agreed to deploy state police to protect federal buildings in Portland amid violent racial justice protests, and once they have succeeded the additional federal forces deployed by Homeland Security will leave, the department announced Wednesday.
  • Meanwhile, the Justice Department plans to send nearly 100 federal agents and officers to Detroit, Michigan, Cleveland, Ohio, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as part of Operation Legend, a federal crime initiative that began earlier this month and has since been expanded to several cities.

Protests & Violence Spread to Other U.S. Cities

A protest in Oakland, Calif., in support of racial justice and police reform turned violent Saturday night when a small group of demonstrators wearing helmets and goggles and carrying large signs that doubled as shields set fire to a courthouse, vandalized a police station, and shot fireworks at officers. In Richmond, Virginia’s capital, a dump truck was torched as several hundred protesters and police faced off late Saturday. Police declared it to be an “unlawful assembly” at around 11pm and used what appeared to be tear gas to disperse the group. In downtown Atlanta on Sunday, federal agents examined damage to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility where windows were shattered late Saturday. In Baltimore, people from a group of nearly 100 demonstrators spray-painted anti-police messages on a Fraternal Order of Police building and adjacent sidewalks on Saturday night. Meanwhile, seven people were arrested Monday night in Tempe, Ariz., where demonstrators approached a police bicycle line and clashed with officers.

  • A Virginia newspaper called out local leaders on Monday after a weekend of rioting and lawlessness in Richmond, asking: “What is the end game to these protests? The violence seems to escalate daily, not just in Virginia’s capital city but across the country.” The editorial added that “the absence of leadership at all levels of government has compounded these circumstances.”

Black Trump Supporter Executed in Broad Daylight

A black man, well-known for his boisterous support of President Trump, was shot and killed by an unknown assailant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin last week. Authorities say Bernell Trammell, 60, was sitting outside his publishing company when a vehicle pulled in front of the business and someone fatally shot and killed Trammell execution-style before speeding away. Trammell had reportedly spent the weeks leading up to his death advocating for Trump’s reelection.

Judicial Watch Discloses Widespread Voter Fraud

A review of court cases and recent indictments – including one this week in Philadelphia against a former congressman – finds there have been at least four dozen cases in criminal and civil court since the last presidential election in 2016 in which voter fraud has led to charges, convictions, lawsuits or plea deals, reports Judicial Watch. The schemes have ranged from old fashion ballot box stuffing to absentee and mail-in ballot fraud. For detailed information about these six cases click here.

New York Struggles to Process Mail-in Ballots in Primary

New York’s quest to keep voters safe from COVID-19 by letting them vote by mail in the June primary has led to big delays in tabulating results and raised concerns about whether there will be an even bigger mess in the fall. Election officials say it will take them until early August to finish counting a tidal wave of absentee ballots that overwhelmed a system which typically handles only around 5% of the vote. About 1.8 million New Yorkers requested mail-in ballots for New York’s primary. Voting ended June 23, but the results of many races, including two closely watched congressional primaries, are still unknown.

Republicans & Democrats Trying to Reconcile Competing Stimulus Bills

Unemployment assistance, eviction protections, and other relief for millions of Americans are at stake as White House officials launch negotiations with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on a new coronavirus aid package ahead of looming deadlines. On Monday, Senate Republicans unveiled the $1 trillion HEALS Act — the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protections and Schools Act — which, among other measures, includes another $1,200 economic impact payment. The GOP bill would reduce the $600 weekly jobless benefit to $200 for two months through September. Overall, Democrats say the GOP bill has insufficient funding and haeve proposed a $2 trillion package, which GOP hardliners say is too much. Republican infighting is weakening their leverage with Democrats as negotiations begin.

Economic News

In April, 78% of those in households experiencing job loss felt that that situation would be temporarily. But now, 47% think that job loss is likely to be permanent, according to The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. All told, roughly 10 million workers might need to find a new employer after the pandemic wraps up, and some might need to switch gears and find a new profession altogether.

New York’s unemployment rate rose to 20.4% last month, up from 18.3% in May and 15% in April. Los Angeles’ unemployment rate recovered slightly in June but remains high — at 19.5%, versus 20.6% in May. The unemployment rate in the leisure and hospitality industries, including restaurants, soared from 5.7% in February to 39.3% in April, and in June was still at an unprecedented 28.9%. By comparison, the overall unemployment rate is 11.1%, and no other industry comes close to restaurants’ level.

The average vehicle age of 11.9 years in 2020 — 12.4 for cars and 11.6 for light trucks — represents a 24% increase over the age in 2002, when the average was 9.6. In 2009, the year the Great Recession ended, it was 10.3 years. The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to push the average age up four to six months more.

Google will let employees work from home until at least July 2021, a company spokesperson said on Monday. The decision to extend the remote work policy well into next year indicates that one of the world’s largest tech companies is bracing for a long pandemic — and could prompt other businesses to follow suit.

Remington Arms, weighed down by lawsuits and retail sales restrictions following the Sandy Hook school massacre, is seeking bankruptcy protection for the second time in as many years. Sandy Hook lawsuits claim that Remington violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act by marketing its Bushmaster XM15-E2S, an AR-15 style weapon, to civilians.

Boeing lost $2.4 billion over the past three months, the company revealed Wednesday. It’s just the latest sign of trouble for the aerospace giant as it continues to grapple with the fallout over its beleaguered 737 Max aircraft and the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. to Move Thousands of Troops Out of Germany

Spurred on by President Donald Trump’s demand to pull troops out of Germany, the U.S. will bring about 6,400 forces home and shift about 5,400 to other countries in Europe, U.S. defense officials said Wednesday, detailing a Pentagon plan that will cost billions of dollars and take years to complete. The decision fulfills Trump’s announced desire to withdraw troops from Germany, at least in part due to its failure to spend enough on defense. U.S. officials said that some moves will begin in months, and would likely send air and ground forces to countries that already have an American troop presence. The plan leaves about 25,000 troops in Germany. Twenty-two Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee objected in a letter to Trump saying a reduced U.S. commitment to Europe’s defense would encourage Russian aggression and opportunism.

  • The U.S. military also plans to move its European headquarters from Germany to Belgium

Russia Spreading Disruptive Disinformation in U.S.

Russian intelligence services are using a trio of English-language websites to spread disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, seeking to exploit a crisis that America is struggling to contain ahead of the presidential election in November, U.S. officials said Tuesday. The U.S. government’s chief counterintelligence executive warned in a rare public statement Friday about Russia’s continued use of internet trolls to advance their goals. Officials described the Russian disinformation as part of an ongoing and persistent effort to advance false narratives and cause confusion.

IDF Repels Hezbollah Terror Attack at Lebanese Border

IDF troops on high alert on the Lebanese border intercepted a Hezbollah terror cell Monday on the Israel-Lebanon border, forcing the terrorists to retreat in a heavy exchange of fire. No Israeli troops or civilians were injured in the incident, officials said. The Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist organization threatened last week to attack Israel after one of its mercenaries was killed in an airstrike in Syria that they blamed on Israel. However, the Hezbollah threat remains, and an army spokesperson statement said that several “tense days” still lie ahead.

Iran Fires Missile at Mock U.S. Aircraft Carrier

Iran’s navy fired a missile from a helicopter at a mock U.S. aircraft carrier in the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday. Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard had towed the fake ship into the strategic waterway as part of war games and military drills that illustrate the persistent threat of conflict between Tehran and Washington. The replica vessel was struck by the missile as part of an exercise Iran called “Great Prophet 14.” Iranian commandos subsequently fast-roped down from helicopters onto the mock Nimitz-class carrier –resembling a ship the U.S. Navy routinely sails into the Persian Gulf. Most of the world’s oil flows through the Strait of Hormuz.

Chinese ‘Spies’ Evicted from Houston Consulate

U.S. officials pried open the doors of the Chinese consulate in Houston on Friday and took over the building shortly after Chinese officials vacated the facility on orders from the Trump Administration. Federal officials and local law enforcement surrounded the Houston facility Friday afternoon as the Chinese officials moved out of the building that the Trump Administration contends was a hub of spy activity by the Chinese Communist Party. Forty minutes after the 4 p.m. eviction deadline passed, U.S. officials broke into a back door of the consulate and a State Department official led the way inside for the U.S. takeover.

  • China on Friday ordered the closure of the U.S. consulate in the western city of Chengdu in Sichuan Province, apparent retaliation for the Trump administration closing China’s Houston consulate over accusations of espionage.

In Nigeria, Boko Haram Executed Humanitarian Workers

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Boko Haram terrorists on Wednesday released a 35-minute video showing their execution of five humanitarian workers abducted about a month ago. They killed the aid workers after a failed negotiation in which they demanded $500,000 dollars for their release “This comes against the backdrop of the deteriorating conditions for millions of Nigeria. The Public Affairs Department of the U.S Embassy in Abuja condemned the executions, saying, “These great individuals dedicated their lives to easing human sufferings. We hope that their families and colleagues can take comfort in their selfless sacrifice on behalf of others.” The executed persons include staff of the State Emergency Management Agency, Action Against Hunger, Rich International, International Rescue Committee, and a private security guard.”

Weather

Hanna, the first hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, came ashore Saturday afternoon in south Texas as a Category 1 storm, packing 90 mph winds and threats of dangerous storm surge. The hurricane made landfall twice, the first on Padre Island at 5 p.m. CDT, and again at around 6:15 p.m. in eastern Kenedy County, near Port Mansfield. As the storm pushed inland, flash flood emergencies were declared for multiple locations and residents were rescued from the floodwaters while many roads were submerged. At the height of the storm’s impacts, more than 250,000 homes and businesses were without power.

Torrential rains and flooding in Yemen recently have killed dozens of people and destroyed thousands of homes. The disaster strikes a country in the midst of a humanitarian crisis after years of civil war. About 33,000 people living in camps for displaced persons in southern Yemen lost their tents and belongings in the recent flooding, according to the Red Cross. The country’s rainy season, which occurs generally from May to September, has been unusually heavy this year.

Signs of the Times (7/24/20)

July 24, 2020

“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.” (Romans 13:1-2)

California Beach Revival Saves Hundreds

An ongoing Christian movement known as Saturate OC, led by Parker and Jessi Green, is bringing about a spiritual revival at Huntington Beach in Orange County, California. The movement began on Friday, July 3rd, and has recently extended its weekly services to August 7th. As the movement continues to grow, multiple churches have joined Saturate OC over the past few weeks. The revival is seeing the lives of hundreds of adults being transformed and the lives of children as well. “California just announced this week that the church can’t meet inside – The Good News is that on Friday we declared “The Church Has Left The Building,” Jessi wrote on Facebook last Wednesday. “You can’t stop the Kingdom of God!”

Iran’s ‘Pandemic of Hope’: Thousands Coming to Jesus

Iran is facing a wave of internal turmoil and covert attacks that are undermining the radical regime’s nefarious plans. Even as the violence escalates, hope is rising among Iranian citizens who are finding salvation in Jesus Christ in a remarkable revival that’s witnessing thousands of Muslims turning to Christianity in the midst of COVID-19, reports Breaking Christian News. “That’s why we are calling this a pandemic of hope,” said Mike Ansari, who runs Mohabat TV, one of the most popular Christian satellite channels in Iran. Ansari told CBN News that Mohabat TV is recording 10 times more online salvations than this time last year. About 3,000 personal decisions for Christ are being made per month by Iranian Muslims to leave Islam for Christianity during this revival.

Americans Plan to Stay Home this Fall

More than 6 out of 10 Americans (61%) said it is likely they will be working from home this fall, according to The Harris Poll survey of 1,970 U.S. adults from July 18-19. Two-thirds (66%) of Americans said they do not expect their kids will be in school this fall and instead will take courses online from home. Most do not expect to travel anytime soon, with 82% saying it is unlikely they will travel over the Labor Day holiday. Three-fourths (74%) said it is unlikely they will travel for winter vacations, too. Even more (79%) said it unlikely they will travel on an airplane this fall. Three-fourths (74%) say they don’t plan to stay in a hotel this fall, either. Only 27% of respondents plan to take their kids trick-or-treating this year.

Nations That Had Overcome Covid-19 Now Seeing Resurgence

The United States has been widely criticized for its approach to the coronavirus pandemic, and the lack of strict nationwide measures to contain the outbreak is reflected in the highest number of cases and deaths in the world. However, countries lauded for their fast and effective responses to Covid-19 are seeing large outbreaks and resurgences of the infection, as it becomes clear that successes in containing the virus are often only temporary. These nations include Hong Kong, Australia, Japan and Israel.

Coronavirus Cases Increasing in 36 States

The New York Times dashboard Friday morning shows that the 7-day average of coronavirus cases are increasing in 36 states, while 13 are holding steady. Arizona is the only state showing a decreasing 7-day average. However, Arizona’s death rate is higher than every other state on a per capita basis, with the ramp up in deaths following behind the earlier surge in cases in late June and early July. The 7-day average number of Covid-19 deaths has been steadily increasing since the beginning of July. Washington state was the first in the U.S. to confront the coronavirus, seemed to get it under control, but now is also fighting a resurgence.

3 out of 4 Americans Want Mandatory Face Masks

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll found that 3 out of 4 Americans support requiring people to wear masks in public. Almost 90% of Democrats as well as nearly 60% of Republicans support requiring masks outside of people’s homes. 95% of Democrats and 75% of Republicans say they’re wearing face coverings when leaving the house.

U.S. Reaches $1.95B Deal for Coronavirus Vaccines

The U.S. government has reached $1.95 billion deal with Pfizer and BioNTech to distribute millions of doses of potential coronavirus vaccine. The biotechnical companies plan to distribute a jointly produced vaccine for the novel coronavirus starting in December, once Pfizer manufactures it and the Food and Drug Administration approves it.

Covid Antibodies Don’t Last Long Raising Immunity Concerns

COVID antibodies in patients with mild symptoms fade quickly, raising concerns that their immunity from a future infection may not last very long, researchers said in the New England Journal of Medicine. The researchers determined that antibody levels had fallen precipitously in test subjects, with a half-life of about 73 days from the onset of symptoms. That raises concern that immunity may not last long in people who develop a mild infection, which accounts for the vast majority of cases. The results call for caution regarding antibody-based “immunity passports,” herd immunity and perhaps vaccine durability.

Doctor Reinfected with COVID-19 Three Months after Recovering

A doctor in Israel has reportedly been reinfected with COVID-19 — three months after her first bout with the coronavirus. While there have been several reports of reinfection of COVID-19 globally, the news comes amid ongoing uncertainty in the scientific community about whether long-term immunity is possible following an infection. Unfortunately, issues with testing and inaccurate results have made the study of antibodies and immunity all the more elusive, with studies pointing to a false negative rate of at least 20 percent and up to 38 percent, reports Channel 13 Israel.

State Lab Reports 90 False Positives for Covid-19

Ninety people who received positive COVID-19 results did not have the virus, according to the Connecticut Department of Public Health. The department said the state public health laboratory uncovered a flaw in one of the testing systems it uses to test for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and 90 of 144 people tested between June 15 and July 17 received a false positive COVID test report. Many were nursing home residents. State officials said the flaw has been reported to the manufacturer and the federal Food and Drug Administration and DPH has taken immediate steps to make sure the patients are notified. According to the state Department of Health, the errant testing results were “from a widely-used laboratory testing platform that the state laboratory started using on June 15.”

  • Since this testing platform is ‘widely used,’ it means that there are a lot more false positives in the U.S.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations in U.S. Nearing April Peak

The number of people being treated in hospitals across the U.S. for COVID-19 is reaching the previous peak set in April. As of Wednesday, 59,628 people were in hospitals with the coronavirus. The number is just shy of the peak of 59,940 people who were being treated on April 15 in hospitals. About 60% of the hospitalizations are now in the South. People younger than 50 made up nearly 40% of the hospitalizations, compared with 26% in late April.

Effects of Covid-19 Linger for Weeks

In a new CDC report, researchers show that 35 percent of people who had covid-19 and were able to self-treat were still not at their usual level of health two to three weeks after testing. For people ages 18 to 34 with no underlying health issues, 1 in 5 were still feeling ill weeks later.

Organized, Militaristic Attack on Police at Chicago Statue

An organized, military-style attack on police occurred earlier this week in front of a statue of Christopher Columbus in Chicago. Chicago police showed footage of an organized attack near Grant Park. The video shows rioters armed with weapons attacking police in an extremely well-organized manner that had the hallmarks of a military operation. The video shows hundreds of protestors proceeding behind banners held up by metal piping with slogans such as “Black Lives Matter” and “Defund the Police.” Once the protestors got to Grant Park, the banners were held up to shield the group behind them, who opened umbrellas, changed into all-black clothing and began handing out rocks, frozen cans and frozen water bottles. The rioters then moved toward the statue in what the police superintendent later described as “a platoon-like fashion.” The rioters attacked the cops for 30 minutes with the metal piping and the projectiles. They restocked the rioters from shopping carts throughout the attack. Some 49 officers suffered injuries.

Portland Mayor Tear-Gassed by Federal Agents

The mayor of Portland, Oregon, was tear-gassed by the US government late Wednesday as he stood at a fence guarding a federal courthouse during another night of protests against the presence of federal agents sent by President Trump to quell unrest in the city. Mayor Ted Wheeler, a Democrat, said it was the first time he’d been tear-gassed and appeared slightly dazed and coughed as he put on a pair of goggles someone handed him and drank water. He didn’t leave his spot at the front, however, and continued to take gas. Around Wheeler, the protest raged, with demonstrators lighting a large fire in the space between the fence and the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse. The federal agents also fired stun grenades into the crowd.

  • Authorities in Portland, Oregon fired what appeared to be tear gas at protesters at the U.S. courthouse early Friday morning. Thousands of demonstrators opposing police brutality and the deployment of federal law enforcement officers had crowded around the courthouse building.
  • The Justice Department on Friday announced that it has arrested 18 people on federal charges of arson, property damage, and assaults on police in the Portland riots and demonstrations.

Seattle Protests Turn Ugly Again, Federal Agents on Standby

Officials in Seattle say they won’t allow the city to become another Portland, despite a beefed-up federal presence ahead of protests expected this weekend. The federal government said Thursday that a “Special Response Team” of tactical border officers will “be on standby in the area, should they be required” to protect federal buildings, reports the New York Times, which describes the team as “similar to the tactical teams currently operating in Portland.” The move follows protests Wednesday in which fires were set and multiple businesses were vandalized.

Trump to Surge Federal Agents to Several Cities

President Trump is deploying 100 federal agents to Chicago to help combat rising rates of violence and crime. The “surge” of agents announced on Wednesday to Chicago and other American cities is part of Operation Legend – named after 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was fatally shot while sleeping in a Kansas City apartment late last month – and comes as federal law enforcement officers have already descended on Portland, Ore. and Kansas City, Mo. “The effort to shut down police in their own communities has led to a shocking explosion of shootings, killing, violence, murders,” Trump said during a speech in the White House’s East Room. “This rampage of violence shocks the conscience of our nation and we will not stand by and watch it happen.”

Liberal Urban Mayors Scorned by Protesters

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler on Wednesday was booed, heckled and called a “fascist” by rioters in the city as he tried to attend a “listening session” about ongoing unrest — becoming the latest liberal Democratic mayor to be shunned by protesters with whom they had sought to show solidarity. Wheeler has been backing the protests against efforts by federal law enforcement to stop rioting near federal property, but the protesters nevertheless turned on him when he joined them, accusing him of failing to defund the police and calling him a fascist. Minneapolis’ Democratic Mayor Jacob Frey was also booed out of a protest in June after refusing to back calls to defund the Minneapolis Police Department. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is known for his leftest leanings, but he was booed off the stage in June.

  • Many protesters are there just to stir up trouble or to make unrealistic demands, meaning that there is no way to appease them other than total anarchy. To scorn and reject these liberal urban mayors who have been supportive of the protests reveals the true intent of those who are turning social justice demonstrations into violent rioting mobs.

Oregon Has a History of Racism

Oregon’s territorial constitution adopted in November 1857 – less than two years before it became a state – barred people of color from coming within its borders. It wasn’t until 1926 that the provision was repealed. Oregon imposed a tax on people of color in 1862, and racial exclusion laws and bans on interracial marriages were on the books for decades, the latter until 1951. “That kind of set the template for what, many decades to come afterward, forms the racial exclusion, anti-Black hostility, housing covenants in Portland, Eugene and other cities that make it difficult for Black people to move in and work in Oregon,’’ said Joe Lowndes, a professor of political science at the University of Oregon. “It’s a white state by design.’’

Judge Rejects Full Release of Illegal Immigrant Families

A federal judge rejected a demand to free all illegal immigrant families being held in detention during coronavirus, ruling Wednesday that even with heightened risks of the disease in detention facilities, it was too far of a leap to do a “blanket release.” The ruling by Judge James Boasberg, sitting in Washington, D.C., is a major blow to activists, who had pleaded for relief. It’s also not the final word. Another federal judge in California has ordered all the children in the facilities released, with a deadline looming next week. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which runs the facilities, is pondering whether that means separating the families and releasing the children to sponsors, releasing the parents too, or getting the parents to agree to keep the children with them in the facilities.

Twitter Blocks Star of David

The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (CAA) announced on Monday that Twitter “has deemed the Star of David, a symbol of Judaism and Jewish pride, to be ‘hateful imagery,’ and is locking the accounts of users who display it.” According to the CAA, several Twitter users contacted the UK-based watchdog organization in the past several days to complain that their accounts were locked, with the social media giant providing the following explanation: “We have determined that this account violated the Twitter Rules. Specifically for: Violating our rules against posting hateful imagery.” Twitter told users that deleting the “hateful imagery,” in this case the Star of David, would lead to reinstatement of their accounts. CAA Director of Investigations and Enforcement Stephen Silverman commented, “It is deplorable enough that Twitter consistently fails to act against anti-Semitism on its platform, but now it is taking action against Jews for the simple crime of showing pride in their identity by displaying a Star of David. It never fails to astound just how low Twitter is prepared to go.”

  • Twitter “categorically” clarified that the Star of David is not a hate symbol and unlocked the accounts. They said the mistake occurred because, “We have for some time seen the ‘yellow star’ or ‘yellow badge’ symbol being used by those seeking to target Jewish people.”

Twitter Bans 7,000 Qanon Accounts, Restricts 150,000 Accounts

Twitter is banning 7,000 Qanon accounts and limiting another 150,000, the social media service announced Tuesday. “These accounts are engaging in behavior that is designed to further the spread of content that has resulted in clear and well-documented informational, physical, societal and psychological offline harm,” Twitter said in a statement. “We have been monitoring the situation closely and determined that additional action is now required pursuant to the Twitter rules against our policies on spam and platform manipulation as well as abusive behavior.” QAnon is a right-wing conspiracy theory involving the belief that President Trump is battling a Satan-worshiping, child-murdering “deep state” cabal.

  • Although Qanon sometimes ventures too far into fantasy land, the ‘deep state’ and ‘deep world’ (New World Order) are quite real and insidious, pushing us toward the one-world government led by the anti-Christ as described in Revelation 13.

Economic News

The number of Americans filing jobless claims rose slightly for the first time since March from 1.3 to 1.4 million additional Americans who filed for unemployment benefits for the first time. In little more than four months, 52.7 million have filed for unemployment. A surge in coronavirus cases has led several states, including California and Texas, to order businesses to pause their reopening, some shutting down for good.

The $600 extra unemployment payment, which runs out this week, has helped millions pay the rent, buy groceries and cover other bills during the pandemic-fueled lockdowns. But it has also kept some workers on the sidelines making it difficult for some employers to get back up and running because they can’t fill job openings.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says a new stimulus deal is in ‘limbo’ and could take weeks to get it done. The White House and Senate Republicans are struggling to design a way to scale back the previous unemployment bonus without overwhelming unemployment agencies and imperiling aid to more than 20 million Americans.

The federal eviction moratorium is also coming to an end this month. Of the 110 million Americans living in rental households, 20 percent are at risk of eviction by Sept. 30, according to an analysis by the Covid-19 Eviction Defense Project.

As thousands of restaurants, hotels, and local businesses in the U.S. struggle to stay open, delinquency rates of commercial mortgages have tripled in three months to 10.32%. It took well over two years for mortgage delinquency rates to reach the same historic levels in the aftermath of the housing crisis of 2009.

Yelp’s latest Economic Average report, released Wednesday, estimated that 60% of the restaurants that temporarily shuttered due to the pandemic have since permanently closed. As of July 10, there were 26,160 total restaurant closures on Yelp, and 15,770 of those are shut down for good, Yelp said. Many small businesses shifted to curbside pickup and online ordering in recent months, but those measures weren’t enough to sustain the business long term.

While many businesses struggle during the pandemic, some are seeing higher profits. An Oxfam analysis revealed that the 25 most profitable large U.S. companies have, on average, 11% higher net profits in the first six months of 2020 compared with their average net profits for the same time period going back to 2016. Microsoft is expected to make 82% more net profit in 2020 than it averaged in the previous four years; Merck, 81% more; and CVS Health, 61% more. The study noted the firms that have done extraordinarily well commercially amid the pandemic have tended to make or provide essential goods and services such as Internet communications, key medicines and diverse consumer products.

After several months of plummeting home sales caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the housing market came back to life in June, according to the National Association of Realtors. Sales of previously owned homes jumped a record 20.7% from May, the largest month-over-month increase since NAR began tracking in 1968. Record low mortgage rates are helping to bring buyers back into the market

Banks have been reducing credit card limits and closing accounts altogether for millions of consumers. The shift could mean that your credit score may drop if you suddenly have less available credit than in the past. Nearly 1 in 3 cardholders said they had their credit limit reduced on at least one card in the past 60 days as banks try to limit their exposure.

Based on a U.S. Census Bureau survey conducted from July 2 to July 7, 2020, nearly 43.4 million Americans – or 25.3% of the adult population – either missed last month’s rent or mortgage payment, or have little to no confidence that they can pay next month’s rent or mortgage on time. 24 million say they have little to no chance of being able to pay next month’s rent, a U.S. Census Bureau survey shows.

A steady decline in the value of the dollar internationally has accelerated in recent weeks, as a resurgent coronavirus outbreak in the United States and improving economic prospects abroad sour investors on the currency. The buck is down 8% from its highs of the year against a basket of currencies. For years, expectations that the United States would outperform other economies kept the dollar elevated against many of its peers. That performance gap is increasingly expected to narrow or disappear entirely as the U.S. pauses its reopening.

While other retailers have announced permanent store closings amid the coronavirus pandemic, Aldi plans to expand. The discount grocer announced Tuesday that it has surpassed 2,000 U.S. locations and plans to open more than 70 new stores by the end of the year, including its first Arizona locations.

Tailored Brands, the owner of Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank, announced plans to close up to 500 stores and cut about 20% of its corporate jobs by the end of its fiscal second quarter. The parent company of Lane Bryant, Ann Taylor and the Justice tween brand has also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and plans to reduce their store fleet from approximately 2,800 stores to approximately 1,200 stores.

Israel Arrests Terrorists Who Planned Several Attacks

Israel’s Shin Bet security service said Tuesday that 10 members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror group were arrested after they were discovered to be planning attacks throughout Israel. A Shin Bet statement said the 10 were divided into two terror cells that received funding and training from Iran and the Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon that is armed, funded and trained by Iran, Shin Bet, said the cells intended to hit Jewish targets, “including an attack in the town of Harish and kidnapping a soldier to use as leverage to get prisoners released from Israeli prison.”

Turkey Embraces Islamist and Ottoman Identities

Under the rule of strongman President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey is moving away from secular state system founded by Kamal Ataturk in the 1920s to fully embracing Islamism and its Ottoman heritage. Most recently, Erdogan ordered that the Hagia Sophia Cathedral will be transformed into a mosque. Christian mosaics, frescoes and icons in the Cathedral will be covered with curtains during Islamic prayer times when the celebrated Christian landmark reopens as a mosque on July 24. Erdogan also expelled three Protestant missionaries from the country for “threatening public order.” Christians in Turkey are preparing for suppression and persecution as Islamic sharia law is fully enforced.

22 Christians Murdered, 2,000 Displaced in Nigeria by Fulani Militants

At least 22 Christians were killed and more than 2,000 displaced during three days of attacks by Fulani militants on villages in the predominantly-Christian Gora ward of Kaduna state, Nigeria. The onslaught escalated in multiple attacks despite the presence of increased security personnel. Three villages were attacked on separate days, described as “barbaric” by the Southern Kaduna People’s Union. Many of the murdered were women and children with the villages razed and burned.

African Militant Islamist Groups Set Record For Violent Activity

A June-to-June review of violent episodes involving militant Islamist groups in Africa over the past decade underscores the growing and shifting threat posed by these groups, reports CEP’s Eye on Extremism. Key findings include: A 31-percent jump in violent events involving militant Islamist groups in Africa in the 12 months ending June 30, 2020, represents a record for violent activity by these groups. With 4,161 violent events, this period marks the first time this total has exceeded 4,000 and reflects a sixfold increase from 2011 (693). The rise in militant Islamist group activity in Africa can be attributed to increases in four of the five main theaters of violent extremist activity in Africa: Somalia, the Lake Chad Basin, the western Sahel, and Mozambique. North Africa is the only theater that has seen a decline, continuing a trend since 2015. The Sahel has seen the most dramatic escalation of violence since mid-2017. Events linked to the groups that formed the coalition of Jama’at Nusrat al Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) collectively grew nearly sevenfold since that time (from 147 events to 999 events for the 12 months ending June 30, 2020). The majority of violent attacks in the Sahel in 2020 were in Burkina Faso (516 vs. 361 in Mali and 118 in Niger).”

U.S. Closes Chinese Consulate and Arrests Scientist for Espionage

Senior U.S. government officials said Friday that a Chinese scientist who had been hiding in the country’s San Francisco consulate after accusations of visa fraud is now in US custody. The officials also charged that Beijing has been using its diplomatic outposts to run an espionage network to steal intellectual property from US businesses, universities and research centers. On Thursday, the U.S. ordered Beijing to shutter its consulate in Houston, a move that triggered China to retaliate Friday by demanding the US close its consulate in Chengdu.

Children Kidnapped, Forced to Sell Trinkets in Mexico

The search for a 2 1/2 year-old boy who was led away from a market in southern Mexico three weeks ago led police to a horrifying discovery: 23 abducted children being kept at a house and forced to sell trinkets in the street. Prosecutors in Chiapas state said Tuesday that most of the children were between two and 15 years old, but three babies aged between 3 and 20 months were also found during a raid Monday at the house in the colonial city of San Cristobal de las Casas, a popular tourist destination. According to the children, many of them were forced to go out on the streets to sell things, and they were forced to return with a certain minimum amount of money for the right to get fed. The children were severely malnourished.

Earthquakes

Warning sirens blared and residents fled to higher ground after an earthquake in Alaska prompted tsunami warnings Tuesday night. The 7.8 magnitude quake was centered about 65 miles south of Perryville on the Alaska Peninsula. There were no reports of injuries or major damage, but the shaking prompted tsunami warning for coastal areas including Sand Point, Unalaska, Kodiak, Cold Bay, Seward, Valdez, Cordova and Homer. Hundreds of people fled their homes for higher ground. Two local schools opened as shelters in Kodiak.

Weather

Tropical Storm Gonzalo formed Wednesday morning in the Atlantic Ocean, the National Hurricane Center said. It’s the earliest “G” storm in any Atlantic hurricane season on record. The storm is expected to become a hurricane Thursday, with winds of at least 75 mph. The hurricane center said Gonzalo was far from land: As of 11 a.m. Wednesday, it was located about 1,205 miles east of the Southern Windward Islands.

Major Hurricane Douglas is approaching Hawaii as a category 3 hurricane, packing dangerous winds of 120 mph that extend 25 miles from the center of the storm. There is an increasing chance that strong winds, dangerous surf, and heavy rainfall could affect portions of the state beginning Saturday night or Sunday.

Signs of the Times (7/21/20)

July 21, 2020

“No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone” (Psalm 91:10-12)

Salvations, Baptisms Revivals and Healings Breaking Out Countrywide

On Sunday, a group of Christians gathered around Washington Square Park, New York City, and turned the place into a worship service for several hours. Afterwards, it unexpectedly saw many baptisms as well. The Let Us Worship movement hosted by Sean Feucht has been going to iconic places in America in response to ordinances that silence the Church. “Basically, [media] are blocking … any narrative except the one they want to push, which is strife, rioting, and violence. And they wouldn’t cover the fact that people are coming together in these places of trauma and they’re bringing hope and bringing healing and bringing restoration and reconciliation,” said Feucht. The movement was founded after Instagram censored the worship services that Feucht led.

God is on the move in central Georgia, reports Breaking Christian News. For several weeks now, thousands of people have been gathering in the small town of Roberta, located about a half-hour southwest of Macon, for the “Central Georgia Awakening” revival. The revival is now in its seventh week. “On June 1, we had the first service, and God has just moved in an unbelievable way,” said Evangelist D.R. Harrison. Harrison said more than 250 people have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior under the tent. He also said families are being put back together, and marriages are being restored. Because of the pandemic, the evangelist said that CDC guidelines like social distancing are in place. “Every revival that’s ever taken place in history, has always come when things were at its worst,” Harrison says.

California Now Bans Small Group Bible Studies in Homes

When California Gov. Gavin Newsom restrictions on gatherings of any kind, some Christians moved to holding small group bible studies in their homes. But now, California has issued a mandatory directive making in-home gatherings, even small group meetings or Bible studies among neighbors in their own homes illegal. The order applies to more than 30 California counties, representing over 80% of the California population. Yet the very same order that bans private worship in people’s home, specifically mentions and allows the protests to continue, reports Liberty Counsel.

Majority of Americans Support BLM But Not Defunding Police

A majority of voters reject reducing police funding and moving that money to social services, despite a national push in recent weeks from activist groups and some politicians, according to an ABC/Washington Post poll released Tuesday. The poll finds that a majority of Americans (63%) support the Black Lives Matter movement, and 69% say Black people and other minorities are not treated equally in the criminal justice system — up 18 percentage points from 2014. However, only 40% support cutting funding to police in order to spend more on social services, while 55% oppose such a move. Along political lines, Democrats, 59% support cutting funding, but only 14% of Republicans and 42% of independents support budget cuts. Meanwhile, 63% oppose paying reparations to Black people whose ancestors were enslaved. Only 31% support it.

  • A poll by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News revealed that of the 900 registered voters who were asked, 56% agreed that American society is racist. About 66% of women believe America is racist, compared with just 46% of men, while 82% of Democrats agreed but only 30% of Republicans.

Mob Swarms ‘Back the Blue’ Event in Denver, Several Injured

A large crowd of anti-cop demonstrators descended on a Back the Blue event in Denver on Sunday afternoon, blowing whistles, banging drums and, in some instances, throwing punches, forcing police to intervene before the gathering was effectively shut down early. Shortly after the band began to play around 3 p.m. on Sunday, anti-police demonstrators, who greatly outnumbered the group who had shown up to show their support for law enforcement, moved into the amphitheater space and banged drums, blew whistles, clanged pots, clapped and shouted obscenities to drown out the music, according to the Denver Post. Several people threw punches. Photos showed clashes between women from opposing sides pulling each other’s hair. One man was bloodied and had a large gash in his forehead.

  • Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin posted several videos documenting the events Sunday as they unfolded. She said protesters swarmed the stage and attacked several women attending the pro-police rally, some using collapsible batons. Acting Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Ken Cuccinelli reacted to the “Outrageous violence” seen in Denver Sunday, tweeting “These tyrannical, left-wing anarchists hate free speech. If you do not agree with them, they believe you must be beaten down – literally.” Attendees said the attackers were from Antifa and Black Lives Matter.

Portland Occupiers Hauled Off in Unmarked Vehicles

Federal law enforcement officers have used unmarked vehicles to detain protesters in Portland, according to news reports. Videos shared online show officers driving up to people, detaining them without explanation, then driving off. The ACLU filed a lawsuit Friday seeking to block the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies from harassing journalists and legal observers at protests. Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has sued multiple federal agencies alleging agents in unmarked vehicles have grabbed people off Portland’s streets without a warrant in recent days, calling it ‘kidnapping.’ In a statement, the Department of Homeland Security insisted that agents are identifying themselves as Customs and Border Patrol agents. But they admitted agents were not wearing name tags — citing recent doxing incidents against law enforcement that exposed individual agents to malicious social media attacks.

  • President Trump has insisted that federal troops are needed to protect government assets in Portland, but the city’s mayor has called on Trump to remove federal agents sent there. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is demanding that President Trump remove federal agents deployed to the city amid criticisms of a heavy-handed response against protesters and journalists. The U.S. Attorney for Oregon on Friday called for an investigation into the Department of Homeland Security’s conduct in cracking down on the riots that have plagued the city of Portland for weeks — just as DHS chief Chad Wolf said his agency would ‘never surrender” to extremists.
  • A group of Portland women calling themselves the “Wall of Moms” is now showing up at demonstrations to act as a human barrier between protesters and law enforcement.The women, wearing yellow shirts and bike helmets, were seen linking arms and chanting “Moms are here, feds stay clear!” during a protest in the Oregon city Sunday night.
  • On the 54th night of ongoing protests, Portland moms and dads marched in droves Monday night, joining downtown protesters in a demonstration that swelled overnight amid escalating tensions with feds in the city. “I found it wrong that the federal government was trying to come here and prevent people from protesting and exercising their right to assemble and protest,” mom Megan Kelly told Portland’s KATU.

Seattle Rioters Seen Damaging, Looting Stores

At least two people were arrested in Seattle and a dozen police officers were injured – including one who was hospitalized – on Sunday, after a march through downtown devolved into property damage and looting, police say. Police said the demonstrators broke several windows in the East Precinct, then threw a device into the lobby that ignited a small fire. Police said demonstrators had thrown rocks, bottles and other items at officers.  A dozen police officers were injured, including one who was hospitalized with neck injuries. Police said demonstrators then headed back north to the West Precinct “leaving behind a trail of property destruction.”

  • It’s not just Antifa that is fomenting rioting and violence, but also many other fringe groups like Boogaloo as well as anarchist, socialist/communist and even white supremacist groups funded by far-left sources and stirred up by Russian/Chinese/North Korean social media disinformation.

Protesters Clash with Police at Chicago’s Columbus Statue

Hundreds of protesters attempting to topple the city’s Christopher Columbus statute faced off with dozens of Chicago police Friday evening in an encounter that turned violent. Some protesters began throwing objects at officers, who hit protesters with their batons. Twelve people were arrested and could “potentially face charges,” including battery to an officer, mob action or other felonies, police said. About 18 officers were injured, police said. Some were treated on the scene by paramedics while others were transported to the hospital. The protesters gathered in Grant Park on Friday afternoon for a “Black, Indigenous Solidarity Rally” organized by more than a dozen Chicago-based organizations. The event called for “the abolishment of police and the redistribution of funds to the people of Chicago,” according to the Facebook event page.

  • Another turbulent weekend in Chicago has left 10 people dead from gun violence and 60 injured – including 10 minors, police say. Two of the victims wounded this past weekend were 10- and 11-year-old boys who had gathered for a vigil near where their relative – Kenshaw Youngblood — was gunned down two years ago.
  • President Trump is planning to deploy federal agents to Chicago and possibly other Democrat-run cities as he continues to assert federal power and use the Department of Homeland Security in unprecedented ways. DHS is slated to send about 150 Homeland Security Investigations agents to Chicago to help local law enforcement deal with the spike in crime. The agents, which are generally used to conduct investigations into human trafficking, drugs and weapons smuggling, were expected to stay in Chicago at least two months.

Thousands of Workers Strike Monday to Protest Systemic Racism

Organizers of a national workers strike say tens of thousands walked off the job Monday in more than two dozen U.S. cities to protest systemic racism and economic inequality that has only worsened during the coronavirus pandemic. Dubbed the “Strike for Black Lives,” where work stoppages were not possible for a full day, participants either picketed during a lunch break or observed moments of silence to honor Black lives lost to police violence, organizers said. “The Strike for Black Lives is a moment of reckoning for corporations that have long ignored the concerns of their Black workforce and denied them better working conditions, living wages and healthcare,” said Ash-Lee Henderson, an organizer with the Movement for Black Lives.

  • Uber plans to double black representation in leadership over the next five years and “continue to ensure that there is a zero difference in pay between all racial and gender demographics,” Uber said. In June, Microsoft said it will work to double the number of Black employees in senior and leadership roles at the company by 2025. The software company Salesforce said it will do the same thing but by the end of 2023. The entertainment firm LiveNation announced similar plans. Facebook, Apple and Google also recently vowed to bolster diversity.

St. Louis Couple Who Waved Guns at Protesters Face Charges

The Missouri couple seen in a viral video brandishing guns at protesters outside their mansion have been charged with unlawful use of a weapon, a class E felony. “It is illegal to wave weapons in a threatening manner at those participating in nonviolent protest, and while we are fortunate this situation did not escalate into deadly force, this type of conduct is unacceptable in St. Louis,” Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner said in a statement. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt swiftly filed a brief in the case to have it dismissed, according to a statement from his office, and Gov. Mike Parson called the charges “outrageous.” President Trump said Tuesday that the charges are an “extreme abuse of power.”

Several U.S. Covid-19 Hotspots Broke Records Over the Weekend

The U.S. Coronavirus outbreak continued to worsen over the weekend, as average death rates hit new highs in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, South Carolina and Texas, and at least 18 states set records for average weekly infections. Los Angeles reported their highest number of hospitalizations in a day, at 2,216. More than half of the 2,848 new cases reported Sunday in Los Angeles were in people under 41 years old, officials said. At least two states reported record single-day case increases Saturday: Georgia reported 4,688 new cases for a total of 139,880 statewide while North Carolina reported 2,522 new cases, reaching 98,092 infections across the state.

  • In Florida, a state that has broken its own single-day case record several times in recent weeks, there were at least 49 hospitals with no ICU beds available Sunday, according to data from a state agency. On Tuesday, Florida reported a record number of new hospitalizations due to the new coronavirus as the state’s daily new case count reached its 28th consecutive day with at least 5,000 positive cases. At least 517 new patients were hospitalized, a record since the start of the pandemic.
  • California will soon surpass New York as the state with the most Coronavirus cases. It has recently been reporting about 9,000 new cases each day for a total of 397,870 on Monday. New York, meanwhile, has been adding a little more than 700 cases a day in the last week. Its total number of cases Monday was about 404,000.

Arizona Now Past Peak in Cases, But Deaths Surge

Arizona reported 3,500 new COVID-19 cases (up from 1559 on Monday) and 134 more known deaths on Tuesday as hospital capacity numbers continued slight declines. However, the 7-day average number of cases dropped to 3,056, down from a peak of about 3,860 on 7/6. With almost two weeks of decline in the 7-day average, officials are tentatively optimistic that the decline will continue, at least until schools reopen on 8/20 with an unknown impact. The death rate, which lags diagnosis by days to even weeks, continues to surge with the 7-day average climbing to over 80/day from it’s previous peak on 5/8 of about 27/day.

  • Demand for testing fell far short of supply during the first weekend of free federally run test sites in Phoenix, with fewer than one-third of available tests used.

Uncounted People Had COVID-19 Symptoms, But No Tests

Experts estimate tens of millions of Americans contracted coronavirus but are not included in official tallies because of testing errors, misdiagnoses, a sluggish public health response, and ignorance about the disease during its early days in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported last Thursday that there have been about 3.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 nationwide. The nation’s understanding of the pandemic is hampered because so many victims remain uncounted. The actual number of infections is likely 10 times the number of reported cases, CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a news conference on June 25.

Studies Says It’s More Likely to Catch Covid-19 at Home than Out

South Korean epidemiologists have found that people were more likely to contract the new coronavirus from members of their own households than from contacts outside the home. A study published in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on July 16 showed just two out of 100 infected people had caught the virus from non-household contacts.

Florida Gangs Hold Covid Parties to Spread Virus

In Florida where Covid-19 cases have gone ballistic, gang members have supposedly been hosting massive parties at vacation rental homes with the hopes of spreading the coronavirus, according to local officials. Osceola County Sherriff Russ Gibson reported that the sheriff’s office has received more than 600 noise complaints, many related to what Gibson referred to as “COVID-19 parties.” Gibson advised that over the coming weekend, his deputies plan to step up patrols in areas where the parties have been known to happen. Gibson claimed that such parties range in size from 50 to 400 people, some coming from other parts of Central Florida.

Dr. Fauci Says School Openings a Local Decision

The nation’s top infectious disease expert says keeping all U.S. schools open or closed “makes no sense” because some areas are much harder hit by coronavirus than others. The decision to reopen should be based on how much the virus is spreading in a particular community, Dr. Anthony Fauci told WebMD. Although some people have stated that the risk of infection and transmission is lower in younger children, Fauci called the claims “anecdotal” and said there’s not enough data to know for sure. The NIH has started a study of 2,000 families to understand the way infection occurs between children and family members and how underlying conditions such as asthma and allergies play a role, but researchers don’t yet have an answer. U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said Tuesday that the country needs to lower the transmission rate of Covid-19 in order to reopen schools.

  • Monete Hicks, who lost both her son and daughter to the coronavirus within a span of 11 days, as well as her niece Darisha Scott, has a message for parents: “Take this seriously.”

California Won’t Open Schools This Fall

Students across most of California won’t be able to attend school in person this fall, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday, dealing another setback to efforts at restarting the world’s fifth-largest economy and possibly spurring similar orders nationwide. Newsom’s order comes as California has seen a dramatic surge in new virus cases, driving up the number of deaths, hospitalizations and ICU beds needed at an alarming rate. The move sets up a likely fight between California, which represents 15% of the nation’s economic output, and the Trump administration, which sees reopening classrooms as an economic linchpin in an election year. It also leaves millions of parents in a bind and some of the country’s largest school districts struggling to extend remote-learning plans just weeks before in-class instruction was to begin. Working parents will have to scramble to find childcare, said David Shulman, a senior economist at the UCLA. “It’s going to be very hard for families with children to make arrangements for their kids so they can go back to work.”

Arizona Teachers Protest August Reopening of Schools

Arizona teachers are protesting the possible reopening of schools this fall as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spiral out of control in the state. Teachers in cities across the state are donning red shirts and holding “motor marches” — driving around in cars painted with slogans like “Remote learning won’t kill us but COVID can!” In May, the state was seeing a seven-day average of about 500 new cases a day. Arizona has seen spikes of around 4,000 new cases at various times over the past few weeks. Republican Gov. Doug Ducey is aiming to reopen schools statewide starting Aug. 17, but educators have opposed the move. Instead, teachers would like to see the start of school pushed back to October at the earliest and increased funding for personal protective equipment.

Refusal to Sign Covid Document Earns Ankle Bracelets

After one woman refused to sign a state document regarding COVID-19, the county treated her family like criminals. The county put them on house arrest and sent a team of eight Sheriff deputies and health officials in five cars to their residence to slap ankle bracelets on them that will go off if they get more than 200 feet away from their home. This treatment was not because they were unwilling to self-quarantine. They were planning to do so. It was simply because she was unwilling to sign a document giving up the freedom for their family to take an ambulance in the case of a medical emergency for her infant daughter, reports Liberty Counsel. The document included a promise to wait on the phone (or on hold) with the government’s office to first receive approval from a bureaucrat prior to taking an “emergency conveyance” (i.e. ambulance) to the hospital.

  • As the end-times roll on, we will see more and more forced compliance with government emergency orders that are far outside the boundaries of the U.S. Constitution.

Two-thirds of Voters Believe Media have Political Agendas

The public’s distrust of the news media continues, though it is far more pronounced among Republicans than it is among Democrats, according to a new poll. Almost two-thirds of likely U.S. voters — 63% — believe most major news organizations in America have their own political agenda according to a new Rasmussen Reports survey, which found that only 27% of the respondents felt these large-scale news operations are impartial. “Democrats (42%), however, are far less likely than Republicans (87%) and voters not affiliated with either major party (63%) to believe most news organizations are politically biased,” the poll analysis showed. Meanwhile, just 30% of voters trust the political news they’re getting, while 44% believe most reporters are trying to block President Trump’s agenda.

Twitter Says Some Accounts had Personal Data Stolen

Twitter revealed late Friday night that hackers had downloaded personal data, possibly including private messages, from up to eight of the accounts targeted in last week’s massive hack. Twitter said in a blog post that hackers had downloaded the data using a tool that includes an archive of private messages. The company said these eight accounts were not verified accounts, meaning the most high-profile figures impacted by this week’s hack have not been found to have their data downloaded. However, it’s unclear if their data, including private messages, was accessed in other ways.

Economic News

The end is near for the $600 federal lifeline for millions of unemployed Americans — even though the economy is still far from recovered from the coronavirus pandemic and new layoffs are being announced regularly. Jobless Americans will still get state unemployment benefits, but the sunset of the Congress’ $600 enhancement — part of the $2 trillion economic aid package passed in March — will leave more than 25 million people thousands of dollars poorer each month. And it will expose more of the real pain of mass unemployment, just as many states are reimposing shutdowns. Congressional lawmakers are beginning to work this week on the next economic stimulus package. But it’s unlikely they’ll agree on — much less approve — the next step to help unemployed Americans before the payments expire at the end of July.

Roughly half of millennial and Gen X mortgage borrowers say either they or someone in their household are receiving unemployment benefits, and many are concerned about paying their mortgage once the extra weekly benefits end, according to a new report from LendingTree. Only 17% of baby boomer borrowers expect to have trouble making their mortgage payment, reports the USA Today.

U.S. companies are doing more than just allowing many local employees to work from home during the pandemic. They’re also seeking out new employees anywhere in the country, and even beyond, and letting them work remotely for the long term. The trend is creating a much larger supply of job candidates for employers as well as creating more openings and lifestyle options for workers, many of whom are reluctant to move to a different city or state because it could disrupt a spouse’s career or a child’s schooling. “With technology and work collaboration tools, companies see employees are able to be productive” telecommuting, says Paul MacDonald, senior executive director at staffing firm Robert Half International.

Dire predictions have swirled about transit’s future as COVID-19 has upended the economy and kept commuters at home. Ridership is down dramatically in many cities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested riding in a car alone is preferable to both ride sharing and public transportation, The number of riders in the  Francisco Bay Area was down a stunning 79%. Detroit saw a less dramatic but still significant decline in demand of 37%.Transit data shows that those continuing to use public transportation during the pandemic are women, people of color, those with lower incomes and people who have been deemed essential workers who can’t work from home.

LinkedIn is cutting about 960 jobs — roughly 6% of its global workforce — as the coronavirus pandemic takes a toll on the job market. LinkedIn’s business model revolves around helping people search for jobs, connect with other professionals and build their resumes — all features that have lost value as companies cut workers and freeze hiring.

TikTok, a Chinese social media platform, The announcement comes as the company faces mounting criticism over its handling of user data and its ties to China through its parent company, ByteDance.  said Tuesday that it plans to create 10,000 jobs in the United States over the next three years, a substantial increase from the roughly 1,400 employees it currently has in the country. The jobs announcement is part of a wider game of defense that TikTok has been playing to meet allegations by policymakers that TikTok poses a national security risk.

European Union Establishes $860B Coronavirus Recovery Fund

After four days and nights of wrangling, exhausted European Union leaders finally clinched a deal on an unprecedented $2.1 trillion budget and $860 billion coronavirus recovery fund early Tuesday, after one of their longest summits ever. The 27 leaders grudgingly committed to a costly, massive aid package for those hit hardest by COVID-19, which has already killed 135,000 people within the bloc of European countries. To confront the biggest recession in its history, the EU will establish an $860 billion coronavirus fund to be sent as loans and grants to the hardest-hit countries.

Another Mysterious Explosion in Iran

An explosion at a power plant in the central Iranian province of Isfahan on Sunday caused no injuries, but joins a growing list of mysterious blasts over the past month in the Islamic Republic. Sunday’s incident is the latest in a string of fires and explosions at military and civilian sites across Iran in recent weeks, including a blast at a suspected ballistic missile facility outside Tehran and another at a health center in which 19 people died. Over the past few weeks fires hit a shipyard in southern Iran, an explosion at a factory south of Tehran killed two people, a petrochemical plant caught fire, and a mysterious powerful blast caused massive damage at the top-secret Natanz nuclear complex in central Iran. The Iranian authorities called the Natanz fire an accident, but a New York Times report suggested Israel might have been behind the event.

China Committing Human Rights Abuse Against Uighurs

Since 2017, China’s government has detained an estimated 1 million–2 million Uighurs in “re-education camps” that it claims are being used to root out extremism. Last month, the AP reported that China is engaging in a sweeping campaign of forced birth control and sterilization on Uighurs and other minorities in northwest China that is “far more widespread and systematic” than was previously known — efforts that some experts have described as “demographic genocide.”

Chinese Hackers Charged with Trying to Steal U.S. Coronavirus Research

The Department of Justice announced Tuesday it has charged two Chinese hackers with trying to steal U.S. COVID-19 research as well as other sensitive information from businesses and government agencies. The 11-count indictment against Li Xiaoyu, 34, and Dong Jiazhi, 31, alleges the Chinese nationals hacked into the computer systems of hundreds of companies, government organizations as well as individual dissidents and clergy. They also allegedly broke into the accounts of democratic and human rights activists in the United States, Hong Kong and mainland China. The Justice Department alleges their decade-long con was not only for personal financial gain but also to benefit the Chinese government.

Nigeria Testing Rate Abysmally Low

Nigeria has a population of about 200 million people, but they have carried out just 212,000 virus tests. Nigeria’s ruling class have been hit particularly hard by Covid-19 while the government’s initially swift response to the pandemic has since been hampered by the low testing numbers.

UAE Launches Orbiter to Mars

The United Arab Emirates launched a historic mission to Mars from an island off the coast of Japan Sunday. The orbiter named Amal, or Hope, was launched from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center atop a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries H2A rocket. Hope will analyze the Martian atmosphere but not land on the Red Planet It is the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission. Hope’s mission control is the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai.

Volcanoes

A volcano on the Italian island of Stromboli erupted on Sunday, July 19, sending lava and debris falling around the crater of the volcano. The Etna Observatory of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology recorded two eruptions, one at five o’clock local time and a less intense one at 6.23 a.m. No damage or injuries were reported.

Wildfires

A wildfire burning in hot, dry conditions in Northern California forced evacuations overnight Saturday. The Badger Fire is burning outside Yreka in Siskiyou County, near the Oregon border. Evacuation orders were in place for the community of Hawkinsville. The fire had burned about 450 acres and was 15% contained. The Badger Fire is one of several burning across the state. The largest is the Mineral Fire, which has scorched about 39 square miles of land near Coalinga in Fresno County, where evacuations were ordered and at least four structures were destroyed. The blaze started July 13 and was 35% contained as of Sunday morning. Evacuations were also ordered over the weekend for areas near Susanville in Northern California as the Hog Fire burned more than 8 square miles, according to Cal Fire. The blaze had no containment as of Monday morning, and the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

A wildfire in southern Utah has forced evacuations in two towns and spread over 3,000 acres – the region’s fourth wildfire in a week. Two towns, Leeds and Harrisburg, were evacuated Sunday, shortly after the Cottonwood Trail Fire started along Interstate 15. A blown tire along the highway caused the blaze, Utah Fire Info said. A portion of the interstate was closed early Sunday evening. Each of the four fires in Southern Utah over the past week has spread over at least 1,000 acres. The Turkey Farm Road Fire burning north of St. George was held at 11,993 acres as of Friday. The Veyo West Fire had spread to 2,618 acres as of Thursday and forced residents to evacuate their homes. The Big Summit fire grew over 5,000 acres, forcing Iron County to evacuate 20 homes.

Weather

Phoenix tied its record for the longest stretch of time where temperatures never fell below 90 degrees last week. The temperature was 90 or above for seven straight days, even at night, an indicator of the impact of the urban heat island effect in combination with an increasingly warming world.

  • End-time weather will continue to grow more extreme, not just hotter (Daniel 9:26b, Ezekiel 38:22, Luke 21:25, Revelation 8:7, 11:19, 16:8,11)

Signs of the Times (7/17/20)

July 17, 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)

Churches Burned, Statues Desecrated, No Known Motive, No Media Coverage

At least four Catholic churches in four states were vandalized over the weekend in a string of attacks that have authorities wondering whether religious icons and statues are next to be targeted by anti-racism and “anti-fascist” protesters. Churches in California, New York, Massachusetts, and Florida were all targeted by vandals, and several historic churches suffered major damage in arson attacks. “A man in Florida plowed his vehicle into the Queen of Peace Catholic Church as it was preparing for morning Mass on Saturday, poured gasoline in the foyer, and then set the building on fire before driving off. He was later arrested and told officers that he was on a “mission” to attack the church. In Los Angeles, the historic San Gabriel Church, which was about to turn 250 years old, was targeted in an arson attack. In Boston, a statue of the Virgin Mary — a monument to veterans of World War II, displayed in the courtyard of a Catholic church there — was torched and desecrated. A second statue of the Virgin Mary was desecrated on Sunday, this time in New York City, at the Cathedral Preparatory School and Seminary in Brooklyn.

America’s Churches Being Driven Underground

Earlier this week a U.S. district judge in New Mexico ruled that the state health department can issue a blanket shutdown against churches. Churches across America have largely been declared ‘non-essential’ by secular-humanist state governments, which is forcing some to go ‘underground’ or internet-only. California is the worst. Houses of worship have been shut down for about 80 percent of California residents. Even home Bible studies, fellowship meetings and private worship services are banned. The only exception is for people to “obtain or perform” the goods or services in Critical Infrastructure Sectors, which does not include churches. In the minority of counties outside the “Monitoring List,” small groups can meet for worship, but you cannot sing or chant and this also includes private home meetings with friends or neighbors.

  • This is but a harbinger of the persecution to come as the end-days roll on as secular-humanists use any excuse they can find to limit or eliminate church meetings.

California Churches File Suit Against Governor’s Singing Ban

Three California churches are suing Gov. Gavin Newsom and public health officials over a ban on singing and chanting during religious services amid the coronavirus pandemic. On Wednesday, several advocacy groups, including the American Center for Law & Justice, filed the federal suit on behalf of Calvary Chapel of Ukiah, Calvary Chapel Fort Bragg and River of Life Church. The suit claims that Governor Newsom’s July 1 order prohibiting singing and chanting in places of worship violates the churches’ constitutional rights. The churches argue that Newsom supported protests calling for police reform that included chanting.

Back To School? “No Thanks” Say Millions Of Newly Homeschooling Parents

Next month marks the beginning of the 2020/2021 academic year in several US states, and pressure is mounting to reopen schools even as the COVID-19 pandemic persists, reports Freedom’s Phoenix. Florida, for example, is now considered the nation’s No. 1 hot spot for the virus; yet on Monday, the state’s education commissioner issued an executive order mandating that all Florida schools open in August with in-person learning and their full suite of student services. However, according to a recent USA Today/Ipsos poll, 60 percent of parents surveyed said they will likely choose at-home learning this fall rather than send their children to school even if the schools reopen for in-person learning. Some of the impetus is driven by fear of the virus, some by the mask and social-distancing restrictions to be imposed on the children, and others who object to the anti-God, secular, sexualized instruction being offered in the nation’s public schools.

President Trump Finalizes Rule Confirming Abortion is Not a Human Right

The Trump administration finalized another pro-life regulation Monday, this one to clarify that the definition of sex discrimination in Obamacare does not include abortions. The new rule officially ends a 2016 regulation from the Obama administration that could have forced medical workers to help abort unborn babies. It restores the government’s interpretation of sex discrimination to “the plain meaning … as determined by biology,” according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Federal Judge Blocks Georgia’s Anti-Abortion ‘Heartbeat Law’

A federal judge has blocked Georgia’s 2019 law banning most abortions on babies with detectable heartbeats, ruling that it violates the U.S. Constitution. Signed into law in May 2019, the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act (HB 481) would forbid abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, except in cases of rape, incest, physical medical emergencies, and pregnancies deemed “medically futile.” “The court rejects the state defendants’ argument that the statutory purpose solely concerns ‘promoting fetal well-being,’” Jones wrote. “Instead, HB 481’s specific references to Roe v. Wade and ‘established abortion related precedents’ … lends support to plaintiffs’ argument that the purpose of H.B. 481 was to ban or de facto ban abortion,” he continued.

  • Abortion is the foremost of the secular-humanist battlegrounds to exalt humanity as god.

PPP Program Gave $7.5 million to Baby-Parts Abortionists

A Planned Parenthood branch in Southern California that was involved in the sale of baby body parts was given $7.5 million through the congressional Paycheck Protection Program. It’s part of the $80 million granted Planned Parenthood nationwide that the federal government said in May was improperly distributed and must be returned. The affiliate, Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties,  has drawn attention because of its part in the sale of aborted fetuses, which was exposed in 2015 by an undercover probe of the Center for Medical Progress.

Vaccine Digital Certification Program Being Tested in Africa

A biometric digital identity platform is set to be introduced in “low-income, remote communities” in West Africa thanks to a public-private partnership between the Bill Gates-backed GAVI vaccine alliance, Mastercard and the AI-powered “identity authentication” company, Trust Stamp. The program will integrate Trust Stamp’s digital identity platform into the GAVI-Mastercard “Wellness Pass,” a digital vaccination record and identity system that is also linked to Mastercard’s click-to-play system that powered by its AI and machine learning technology called NuData, reports Technocracy News.

  • This, or something like it, will establish the basis for the eventual ‘mark of the beast’ as described in Revelation 13:16-19 and 14:9-11.

Record Number of Covid-19 Cases Thursday, 7/16

On June 24, the U.S. set a record with 37,000 new coronavirus cases reported in a single day. On July 8, the record was broken with just over 60,000 new cases. Thursday, 7/15, the total was 77,255, which is by far the highest one-day total recorded in the U.S. or any other country. The number of COVID-19 cases detected in the US now stands at over 3.5 million, including more than 138,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. States that broke their single-day records Thursday include Nebraska, Utah, and Oregon. South Carolina, Florida, and Texas. Thirty-nine states reported an increase in the number of new cases from the week before.

  • Hot-spot Arizona has seen cases drop over the last few days, but deaths are increasing and now represent the highest Covid-19 death rate per capita. The 7-day average number of Covid-19 deaths has risen to nearly 70/day from a peak of about 25/day on 5/8. Ventilators in use hit a new record Thursday. Friday’s dashboard shows 87% of current inpatient beds and 90% of ICU beds were in use.
  • With skyrocketing coronavirus hospitalizations in several states, hard-hit counties in Arizona and Texas are preparing for the worst by bringing in refrigerated trucks as morgues fill up. Miami hospitals have reached 95% capacity, with most of the cases being among 18-34 year-olds.

10% of Arizona Reservation has COVID-19 and Water Shortages

About 1 in 10 residents of the White Mountain Apache Tribe have tested positive for the new coronavirus, with about 1 in 3 recent tests coming back positive, tribal officials said. At the height of the pandemic, the tribe also is experiencing a water shortage — a frequent summertime issue that further complicates the situation as cases continue to climb. The tribe on Thursday had 2,106 identified cases and 30 confirmed deaths, according to officials. With an estimated population of 15,515, the tribe has about 135.7 cases per 1,000 residents. The tribe’s infection rate now surpasses that of the Navajo Nation, which at one point had the highest infection rate in the country but has recently experienced a flattening of the curve.

Vaccine Trial Yields Strong Immune Response

Moderna Inc.’s experimental vaccine for COVID-19 showed it was safe and provoked immune responses in all 45 healthy volunteers in an ongoing early-stage study, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday. No study volunteers experienced a serious side effect, but more than half reported mild or moderate reactions such as fatigue, headache, chills, muscle aches or pain at the injection site. Moderna was the first to start human testing of a vaccine for the coronavirus on March 16, some 66 days after the genetic sequence of the virus was released. The federal government is supporting Moderna’s vaccine with nearly half a billion dollars and has chosen it as one of the first to enter large-scale human trials.

More Than Half COVID-19 Patients Suffer Heart Damage

More than half of COVID-19 patients who received heart scans had heart damage, according to a study published in the journal European Heart Journal. Based on 1,216 heart scans, roughly 55% of patients had heart damage, and one in seven patients had “severe abnormalities.” Approximately 70% of the patients were male, and their average age was 62. Roughly, 54% of patients were diagnosed with severe COVID-19. “We now need to understand the exact mechanism of this damage, whether it is reversible and what the long-term consequences of COVID-19 infection are on the heart.”

Immunity to Covid-19 Could be Lost in Months

A disturbing new study reveals that people who are infected with COVID-19 could lose their immunity to the novel coronavirus within months. Researchers at King’s College London analyzed the blood of infected patients and healthcare workers and found that the levels of protective antibodies peaked about three weeks after the first symptoms appeared. However, those antibodies were found in only 17% of the patients three months later. “People are producing a reasonable antibody response to the virus, but it’s waning over a short period of time and depending on how high your peak is, that determines how long the antibodies are staying around,” said Dr. Katie Doores, one of the lead authors of the study.

To Mask or Not to Mask

Georgia’s Gov. Brian Kemp is explicitly banning Georgia’s cities and counties from ordering people to wear masks in public places. He voided orders on Wednesday that at least 15 local governments across the state had adopted. Kemp’s move is likely to infuriate local officials in communities that had acted mask orders, including Atlanta, Augusta, and Savannah. Savannah Mayor Van Johnson was the first local official to defy Kemp and order masks, and had said police would start writing $500 citations to businesses that didn’t enforce the law requiring masks. Kemp is suing Atlanta’s mayor and city council to block the city from enforcing its mandate to wear a mask in public

More Stores Requiring Masks

Target and CVS are the latest retailers to announce they too will require shoppers to wear masks or face coverings at stores nationwide. The announcements come a day after Walmart, Kroger and Kohl’s announced they would require masks starting next week as COVID-19 cases continue to rise. Walmart and Sam’s Club will start requiring masks at stores and clubs nationwide starting Monday, July 20, the company announced Wednesday. “We know some people have differing opinions on this topic. We also recognize the role we can play to help protect the health and well-being of the communities we serve by following the evolving guidance of health officials like the CDC,” the retailers’ chief operating officer said. Best Buy and Starbucks started requiring consumers nationwide wear masks Wednesday. Costco has been doing so for a couple of weeks.

Pentagon Effectively Bans Confederate Flag from Military Installations

The Pentagon effectively banned the display of the Confederate flag on military installations, per a memo signed Thursday by Defense Secretary Mark Esper. The move was done in a way meant to largely avoid President Trump’s ire by not explicitly banning it. The memo instead listed flags that are allowed to be displayed on military property, leaving out the Confederate flag. On Tuesday, Trump told CBS News that flying the Confederate flag was a “freedom of speech” issue. Trump also said last month that he will “not even consider” renaming the 10 U.S. military bases that are named after Confederate leaders.

Portland Protesters Create ‘Autonomous Zone’ after 6 Weeks of Demonstrations

Portland protesters early Wednesday began to set up tents in the park near the federal courthouse and have barricaded streets to create their own autonomous zone, likened to the since disbanded Capitol Hill Occupied Protest in Seattle. A camera at the Portland Standard Building showed protesters beginning to assemble tents late Tuesday night in the same park where “Occupy Portland” set up in 2011. It remains unclear who is responsible for helping organize and supply protesters as they continued to wreak havoc in the streets for the past six weeks. One group of anti-capitalist, anti-fascist teens who call themselves the Pacific Northwest Youth Liberation Front has used social media to organize throughout the city. “People are needed here ALL night long, especially in the early morning! Get on over! Bring some tents,” their Twitter page said, sharing an image of a barricade that read “ACAB,” an acronym meaning “All Cops Are Bastards,” and “Black Trans Lives Matter.”

  • Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf on Thursday accused Portland politicians of enabling the “mob” of protesters who have besieged the city for more than six weeks — and posted a lengthy timeline of the damage caused by the “violent anarchists.”

425 Arrested so Far in Louisville Breonna Taylor Protests

Since the Breonna Taylor protests began in Louisville, KY, 49 days ago, 435 individuals have been arrested, according to Louisville Metro Police Department. Protesters have been arrested for inciting a riot during repeated clashes with police downtown, for disorderly conduct and obstructing a highway, blocking the Second Street Bridge last month, and for trespassing at Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s home Tuesday during a protest organized by the national group Until Freedom. At Cameron’s home, seated protesters linked arms as they awaited their imminent arrests for trespassing. “Getting arrested and engaging in civil disobedience sends a message that we’re willing to escalate, and we’re willing to risk more,” said Linda Sarsour, co-founder of Until Freedom and one of the 87 arrested on Tuesday.

Asheville, NC Votes for Reparations to Blacks

In an extraordinary move, the Asheville City Council has apologized for the North Carolina city’s historic role in slavery, discrimination and denial of basic liberties to Black residents and voted to provide reparations to them and their descendants. The unanimously passed resolution does not mandate direct payments. Instead it will make investments in areas where Black residents face disparities. “It is simply not enough to remove statutes. Black people in this country are dealing with issues that are systemic in nature,” Councilman Keith Young said.

Senate Democrats Propose $350 Billion for Communities of Color

Senate Democrats on Thursday released a $350 billion plan to tackle “systemic racism” and “historic underinvestment” in communities of color that have been hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic and economic downturn. The Economic Justice Act calls for 10 major investments over the next five years to help communities of color with childcare, health care, jobs programs, infrastructure improvements and housing assistance. The Economic Justice Act would be partially funded through reprogramming $200 billion in unspent funds from the CARES Act coronavirus response legislation signed into law in March.

Black Conservatives Launch Campaign to Save Statue of Lincoln

Black conservative leaders kicked off Tuesday a campaign to save the Freedmen’s Memorial, the statue of Abraham Lincoln and freed slave Archer Alexander now under attack by Democrats and Black Lives Matter protesters. Star Parker, founder of UrbanCURE, held an “emancipation celebration” Tuesday at Lincoln Park, home of the now fenced-off bronze statue in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, to promote a signature drive urging Congress to “keep this statue alive, right here.” “This Emancipation Memorial should be a reminder to never to see any group — any group — of persons as non-persons, whether born or unborn, and that America’s history is best relayed by reality, not revised by mob mentality,” said the Radiance Foundation’s Ryan Bomberger at the event.

Massive Twitter Attack Focuses on Prominent People

The Twitter accounts of prominent figures from the worlds of tech and money, celebrities, a presidential candidate and a former president were all hacked Wednesday in what was the largest breach in the company’s history. Bogus messages soliciting bitcoin appeared on the Twitter accounts for Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos, Berkshire Hathaway CEO and president Warren Buffett, former President Barack Obama, presumptive Democratic candidate Joe Biden, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the corporate accounts for Apple and Uber. Celebrities were also targeted in the bitcoin scam including rapper Kanye West and his wife Kim Kardashian and rapper Wiz Khalifa. Others were locked out of their accounts, including Trump Jr. and his spokesman Andy Surabian as well as Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.

  • Cybersecurity experts say that while there is no indication that the hack was the work of a nation-state, it highlights the fact that some “critical infrastructure capable of influencing the election” is vulnerable to attack.

Airlines Announce Future Furloughs, Cut Flights

American Airlines is sending 25,000 Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) letters on July 15 ahead of potential layoffs or furloughs. Earlier, Delta and United airlines announced thousands of future layoffs, offering voluntary retirement programs beforehand. Delta posted a nearly $6 billion loss for the past three months, its worst loss since 2008, and warned that bookings are declining again as Covid-19 cases rise. Delta had planned to add 1,000 flights a day to its August schedule as it and other airlines reported a modest pickup in bookings for June and July. Although Delta initially added 1,000 flights a day to its August schedule, CEO Ed Bastian confirmed it will now add only 500 as rising coronavirus cases in southern states and quarantine rules on travelers to the Northeast were put in place.

Economic News

U.S. retail sales climbed a solid 7.5% in June, a sign that the economy was healing right before infections from the coronavirus spiked again and dragged down hopes for a steady recovery. The Census Bureau reported Thursday that retail sales are 1.1% higher than their levels from a year ago, after a brutal plunge in March and April was offset by a decent rebound in May and June. But any gains might be short-lived as infections began to rise toward the end of June.

Another 1.3 million Americans filed applications for unemployment insurance for the first time last week, the Labor Department said Thursday. That pushes the 16-week total to 51.3 million. The 1.3 million from last week marks the 15th straight weekly decline after first-time claims peaked at 6.9 million at the end of March, but it’s the smallest drop yet, at just 10,000. That reflects the spike in coronavirus cases across much of the country, particularly the South and West, and decisions by more than 20 states to pause or reverse the reopening of restaurants, bars, gyms, movie theaters and other outlets.

It appears that a next round of stimulus is coming, but it will have a significant change. No longer will unemployed beneficiaries automatically qualify for $600 a week extra in benefits. Per Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, unemployment payouts will not total more than 100% of what a worker had been paid. Tying enhanced unemployment benefits to a worker’s typical wage will ensure that there’s an incentive to get the unemployed back to work. Forty percent of Americans earning less than $40,000 a year lost their jobs in March, which means the economic burden of the coronavirus has fallen most on those who are least able to bear it, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said.

According to data from Families USA, 5.4 million people who lost their jobs also lost health coverage between February and May. That figure represents the highest increase on record. The previous high, according to the report, came in 2008 to 2009 when 3.9 million working-age adults lost their health insurance during the recession. Eight states have at least 20% of their working-age population uninsured: Texas (29%), Florida (25%), Oklahoma (24%), Georgia (23%), Mississippi (22%), Nevada (21%), North Carolina (20%), and South Carolina (20%).

Consumer prices rose in June after three straight months of declines, as the cost of gas and food increased. The consumer price index, which measures what Americans pay for everything from clothing to appliances, rose 0.6% last month on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Tuesday. In May, prices declined 0.1%.The gasoline index soared 12.3% in June, while food prices rose 0.6%.

Analysts at Coresight Research, which tracks retail closures, projected that about 25% of America’s malls would disappear within the next three to five years. But that could rise to as many as 50% “if we can’t stop the bleeding,” Coresight CEO Deborah Weinswig said in an interview. “The whole business model of a mall, which is about pulling in as many people as you can and getting them to stay for as long as you can, has just unraveled,” said Neil Saunders, managing director of consultancy GlobalData Retail.

Mortgage rates fell below 3% for the first time ever as the economy continues to struggle from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to a record low of 2.98% this past week, according to Freddie Mac. That’s the lowest level in the nearly 50 years of the mortgage giant’s survey. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped to 2.48%.

As beer and soda consumption shifts from restaurants to homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, beverage companies and can makers are having a hard time keeping up. The shortage of aluminum cans is crimping supplies of certain drinks, industry officials said. Can manufacturers announced plans to build at least three factories within the next 18 months, but that won’t solve the immediate supply issues.

After years of declining sales of passenger cars, several automakers have recently decided to give up on the subcompact body style as SUVs increasingly win over Americans. General Motors last week became the latest company to discontinue a subcompact car, saying it would end production of the Chevrolet Sonic in October. In 2019, subcompact cars made up 2.7% of vehicle purchases, down from 5.5% in 2012, according to car-research site Edmunds. In June, Toyota, once known largely for disrupting the American market with its small cars, announced it was discontinuing the Toyota Yaris subcompact car. And last year, Ford announced it would no longer make the Ford Fiesta subcompact car.

UK Bans Chinese Tech Company Huawei from 5G Network

The United Kingdom has banned Huawei from its 5G telecom network, reversing a January decision to allow the embattled Chinese tech company a limited role in building the country’s super-fast wireless infrastructure. The decision is a big win for the Trump administration, which has been pushing allies to exclude Huawei from their 5G networks, arguing that the Chinese company is a threat to national security. It is alleged that spying software is embedded in Huawei’s 5G systems.

Israel Puts Sovereignty Plan on Hold, Says U.S. ‘Not Listening’

Plan to extend Israeli sovereignty plans over the Jordan Valley and parts of Judea have been halted, at least for now, said the head of Israel’s delegation negotiating the plan with the U.S. on Tuesday. Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin made the comments in a closed-door meeting, reports Army Radio. He said the U.S. “is not listening” and not open to sovereignty talks at the moment, according to the report. On Sunday, Kan public broadcasting reported that the U.S. introduced new conditions to its support for sovereignty, requiring first the agreement of Likud’s coalition partner in the unity government, the Blue and White party. The report also said that the U.S. wants concessions from Israel to use as a carrot to entice the Palestinian Authority to the negotiating table.

Israel Locking Down Again this Weekend as Coronavirus Surges

Hoping to avoid the need for a national lockdown as coronavirus infections hit a record high, Israel on Friday imposed new health restrictions that will see the country shut down on weekends. In a joint message from the Prime Minister’s Office and Ministry of Health, the government laid out the new restrictions that include new weekend closures from 5:00 p.m. on Friday until Sunday morning at 5:00 am, warning that “violation of any of the said restrictions will constitute a criminal offense.” Israelis will be allowed to leave their homes, but over the weekend the government has ordered the closure of beaches, malls, shops, retail markets, hairdressers, beauty salons, libraries, zoos, public pools, museums and tourist attractions.

Iran Launches Another Attack on Israel’s Water Infrastructure

Iranian hackers staged another attack on Israel targeting two Israeli water infrastructure facilities, Ynet reported Thursday. The attack was on agricultural water pumps in the Upper Galilee and unnamed water infrastructure in the center of the country, were immediately repaired by the local authorities. The first Iranian cyberattack in early April on an Israeli water-treatment facility was designed to get computers to add too much chlorine to the Israeli water supply and represented a new phase in Iranian aggression, a former Israeli defense official said.

Sudanese Christians Rejoice at Abolition of Islamic Apostasy Law

The abolition of Sudan’s apostasy law, which carried a death penalty for leaving Islam, has finally been enacted. This has caused great rejoicing amongst Sudanese Christians, especially those who are converts from Islam. In a press announcement, Sudanese Minister of Justice Nasr al-Din Abdel Bari said the Act repeals the apostasy law, protects freedoms and also grants previously-forbidden liberties. Other changes include the freedom of women to travel abroad with their children without producing the written consent of their husband or male family member, the criminalization of female genital mutilation (FGM) and the decriminalization of alcohol consumption by non-Muslims.

Nepal’s Government Actively Targets Religious Minorities

Government authorities and media outlets in Nepal are utilizing the global COVID-19 pandemic as a cover for the arbitrary arrests and denial of fundamental rights of religious minorities. Religious minority communities, including Christians, Muslims and Buddhists, in Nepal have suffered increased discrimination, harassment and persecution from the predominantly Hindu authorities. In October 2017, the Nepalese government passed legislation that criminalizes religious conversion which states that no one should either be involved in or encourage conversion of religion. Those arrested and found guilty in violating this law can be imprisoned for five years and fined $500 USD. Anti-minority movements have since gained boldness and have ramped up persecution of Christians and Muslims at alarming speed.

Brazil Becomes Epicenter for Covid-19 Vaccine Development

As the coronavirus pandemic tears through Brazil, researchers and pharmaceutical companies are turning to the South American giant in search of a vaccine. Brazil, where the number of cases has now surpassed 2 million, is one of a small handful of sites for testing experimental coronavirus vaccines. It offers an unusual and appealing mix for research: a skyrocketing rate of transmission, as well as internationally respected research centers and a public health system experienced in creating and distributing vaccines. As of July 14, 163 Covid-19 vaccines were being developed around the world, and 23 of them had started clinical trials involving humans. But only two have reached Phase 3, the last scientific stage before approval to be marketed. Both Phase 3 trials will include Brazil and are scheduled to involve at least 14,000 Brazilians. Advanced talks are also underway to launch three more vaccine trials in the country.

Wildfires

The Mineral Fire has consumed more than 30 square miles near Coalinga, California, and was 30% contained Friday morning. Four structures have been destroyed in the fire, which has forced evacuations in Fresno County. Additional evacuations are possible in parts of neighboring Monterey County. The fire is burning in steep, rocky terrain that is difficult to access. The cause of the fire remains unknown. Smoke from the fire was visible over the San Francisco Bay Area as well.

Authorities in Utah are looking for three teenagers who they said started a wildfire that’s burned thousands of acres. Utah Forestry said the Turkey Farm Road Fire started around 9:10 p.m. Monday, about 3 miles west of Washington City in the southern part of the state. The blaze is estimated at 11,700 acres, with no containment as of Wednesday morning. Officials said the blaze was started by fireworks and rapidly spread by dry conditions and erratic winds. So far, the blaze has destroyed one outbuilding and several other structures were threatened.

Weather

Great Lakes water temperatures are setting records due to a persistently hot summer in the Midwest and Northeast. Water temperatures in the Great Lakes are running 6 to 11 degrees above average right now, setting records for mid-July on lakes Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario. The shallower waters of western Lake Erie, Lake Michigan near Green Bay, and Lake Huron at Saginaw Bay are flirting with 80 degrees. Lake Superior, the deepest lake with by far the highest volume of water, is not as warm as the other Great Lakes, but still is running over 6 degrees above average.

Floodwaters entered a hospital Tuesday and washed out several streets in Woodsville in northern New Hampshire. Some residents reported water in their basements. An upper-level low-pressure system triggered slow-moving thunderstorms with heavy rain over the mountainous terrain of northern New Hampshire and northern Vermont.

Compassion – Bridging the Divide

July 16, 2020

Click below for the Podcast version:

Compassion – Bridging the Divide

Written Version

At this moment in time, under a pandemic and racial unrest, America is divided as never before. Alarmists point to Covid-19 cases peaking in the south and southwest United States as the impetus to lockdown once more, while others say the numbers are exaggerated and the coronavirus is no worse than the flu, so let’s keep reopening the economy and open the schools. It seems like everyone has locked into totally opposite states of being: liberal vs. conservative; pro-Trump vs. anti-Trump; Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter; law and order vs. defund the police; masks vs. no masks; the economy vs. health.

To make matters worse, many of those on each side of these issues are angry and hostile. But what each side needs to understand is that there are no perfect solutions in a fallen world of good and evil. The only perfect solution is when Jesus returns to rule and reign for a thousand years over a new or restored earth (see Revelation 20-21). But until then, what do we do?

First and foremost, everyone needs to get off their high horses and realize that we are all sinners, and we all fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 8:23) James 2:10  tells us that if we commit one sin it as though we’ve broken them all. And James also tells us in 4:17 that, “to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” So, indeed, as the Scriptures tell us in several places, no one is righteous, no not one. (see Romans 3:10) “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1John 1:8)

Just as no one is righteous, no one of us is perfectly right. But pride, in the form of “I’m right and you’re wrong,” has locked people into entrenched positions that are maintained with anger and hostility. Is this the way Jesus wants us to act? We are supposed to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and esteem others more highly than ourselves (Philippians 2:3) I don’t see a lot of that happening right now. Instead, people are attacking one another over face masks, and peaceful protests have turned violent.

Many Christians today justify their anger, their words and their actions because they are trying to prevent the evil one-world-government and the ‘mark of the beast’ from coming into fruition. But the Bible says all this will happen, regardless of what we do or don’t do. In fact, it’s part of God’s plan of allowing transgressors to reach their fulness (Daniel 8:23), after which Jesus destroys this earth and brings forth a new earth and a new Jerusalem (Revelation 21). In essence, this comes down to our opposing God in our efforts to prevent these things from happening. Opposing God is never a good place to be.

The Bible says, “Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” Constant, daily, nagging anger opens you up to attacks from Satan. Not only that, but it’s a terrible witness for Christ Jesus. When asked what the most important commandments were, Jesus said to love God and love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:30-31) And then he used the example of the Good Samaritan to essentially define our neighbor as being everyone.

Jesus took it a step further when He said, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44) You can’t love and hate at the same time, nor can you bless and do good when you are angry and spiteful.

The missing ingredient in the boiling cauldron of hostility is compassion. Things have gotten so bad that love alone is not enough. Compassion is love in action and deed. When Jesus saw that the multitude had followed him out into the wilderness where there were no convenience stores anywhere in sight, He had compassion upon them and turned the five loaves and two fishes into enough food to feed five thousand. He did that knowing that many of them would soon turn away from Him when He proclaimed that He was the bread of life and the living water (John 6:5).

It’s no longer just enough to love our neighbor and our enemy. This nation, indeed the entire world, is in need of compassionate acts that put faith and love into action. Otherwise, James tells us that our faith without works is dead. (James 2:26) Many people are praying for a spiritual awakening, for revival to break out but it won’t do so in the midst of all this anger and hate. There will be no revival unless Christians love their enemies, bless them and do good to them.

We know from the Bible that the end-times will bring about pestilence (e.g. the coronavirus), economic devastation, increased hostility and murder, and a one-world government headed up by the anti-Christ and the False Prophet Revelation 13:1–4) who will war against the saints and overcome them (v7) and impose the ‘mark of the beast’ in order to buy or sell, that is, in order to survive. (13:16-19, 14:9-11)

Our job is not to prevent the ‘mark of the beast’ from happening, but to warn and educate people by speaking the truth in love, not in anger or hate. Yes, the wearing of masks now can condition people to be more receptive to accepting the ‘mark of the beast’ when it comes, but people don’t understand where all the animosity is coming from right now. Instead of being attacked, they need to be loved into the kingdom through compassion as Jude,, the brother of Jesus, exhorts us to do: “And of some have compassion, making a difference.” (Jude 1:22)

It is compassion that will make all the difference in saving souls – which is our primary job during the end-times. This is what Jude means when he exhorts us to “earnestly contend for the faith.” In today’s language, the word contend conjures up images of arguing and fighting, hostile images. But that’s not what the underlying Greek word means. It is the only time this combination of two Greek words appears in the Bible. It means to fight for something, not against someone. To speak the truth under adversity, but always with love and compassion.

It is more than coincidence that the small book of Jude comes right before the Book of Revelation. The end-times are a time of fear, which many people counter with anger and hostility. But it is perfect love that casts out fear. (1John 4:18) Anger and hostility only foster more anger and hostility. We can use the fear in unbelievers during these difficult days and the even more difficult days to come, in order to snatch them out of the fire through love and compassion, as Jude notes in verse 23 where he also tells to hate the garment (i.e. sin), not the person.

Compassion enables us to be an encourager instead of a divider, as the Apostle Paul exhorted in Philippians 2:1-2 (NIV): “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.”

Even if others don’t respond to our compassionate efforts, we will be shining the light of Jesus into their lives and living out the exhortation from Peter 3:9-11 (NIV), “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.”

Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

So, as the end-days roll on and life gets worse and worse and Christians get persecuted all the more, will you be sinking into the boiling cauldron of anger and hate? Or will you still stand up for Jesus and shine forth His light of love and compassion?

Signs of the Times (7/13/20)

July 13, 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)

Local Governments Weigh Major Tax Hikes to Fix Budget Crisis

State and local governments scrambling to raise money during the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic are looking to increased property taxes — as well as wealth taxes and more — to fill budget holes. Property tax rates in Nashville, Tenn., will be increasing by 34 percent in what Mayor John Cooper described as a “painful but necessary” move that will raise money for the city, which has taken a hit during the pandemic. In Texas, Dallas lawmakers were considering a massive property tax hike of as much as 8 percent but needed the city council to pass a measure allowing them to increase rates by more than 3.5 percent. Economists worry that raising taxes too dramatically could hurt the economy even more.

U.S. June Budget Deficit Shatters Monthly Record

The government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has led to a surge in new spending and a dramatic decline in tax revenue, creating a massive gulf that requires more government borrowing, reports the Washington Post. In June 2019, the budget deficit was just $8 billion. Before the pandemic, the previous biggest one-month deficit in the U.S. was $234 billion. The deficit for the first nine months of the fiscal year was $2.7 trillion, the Treasury Department said.

Paycheck Protection Program Saved Over 665,000 Ministry Jobs

A new report released last week showed that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) rescued over 665,000 jobs for churches and ministries across the country. The PPP was part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed in March in order to help struggling businesses make payroll as the country reels from the effects of COVID-19. According to Christianity Today, it also marked the first time the U.S. government sought financial protection for clergy and ministry workers as part of a government stimulus package.

Colorado Governor Shuts Down Christian Conference but Encourages Protests

Halfway through Andrew Wommack Ministries, International (AWMI) Independence Day weekend “2020 Summer Family Bible Conference,” Andrew Wommack was served with cease and desist papers from the Colorado Attorney General. AWMI went above and beyond CDC and state recommended safety measures to properly sanitize and “social distance” their gathering. Working closely with local county officials, AWMI even reduced attendance to less than 1/3 of what the sanctuary would normally hold. Gov. Polis, however, demanded the church reduce attendees to just 3% of church capacity – 175 people in the 5,000-seat sanctuary. Yet, gatherings of thousands of protestors (not social distancing, not all wearing masks) have been permitted by Governor Polis. The governor said, “it is not possible to stay home, it is not possible to stay silent.”

Supreme Court Blocks Congress but Allows NYC to See Trump’s Tax Records

The Supreme Court temporarily blocked congressional investigators Thursday from gaining access to President Trump’s personal financial records, but then ruled that Trump cannot keep tax and financial records from a Manhattan prosecutor investigating alleged hush-money payments. Both cases carry political as well as legal and constitutional implications for the president and Congress, where House Democrats have argued the records could reveal evidence of criminal wrongdoing. The president, acting through his personal legal team, has refused to comply with subpoenas from three House committees seeking information from his accountant and bankers. On Thursday, Trump called it “a political prosecution.”

Supreme Court Declares Eastern Oklahoma to be Native American Land

The Supreme Court said Thursday that eastern Oklahoma, including Tulsa, is Native American land for purposes of federal criminal law in a decision that the state argued could call into question thousands of state prosecutions for serious crimes. Under the law, crimes involving Native Americans on a reservation are under federal, not state, jurisdiction. Justice Neil Gorsuch penned the 5-4 opinion joined by the liberals on the bench. “Today we are asked whether the land these treaties promised remains an Indian reservation for purposes of federal criminal law,” said Gorsuch, who was appointed by President Donald Trump. “Because Congress has not said otherwise, we hold the government to its word,” he said.

Two Coronavirus Vaccines Granted ‘Fast-Track’ Status

U.S. equity markets rallied Monday as two COVID-19 vaccines were given “fast-track” status. Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE received fast-track designation for two of their experimental COVID-19 vaccines, helping offset news that the number of new daily COVID-19 infections in the U.S. remained above 60,000 all weekend.

Chinese Virologist Escapes to Tell World of Coronavirus Coverup

A Chinese virologist said she escaped China to warn the world about how dangerous the coronavirus is, Fox News reports. Hong Kong scientist Dr. Li-Meng Yan said that the Chinese government knew about COVID-19 well before it claimed they did and that her lab supervisors ignored her early research on the virus. “The reason I came to the U.S. is because I deliver the message of the truth of COVID,” she said. Yan said she reported her findings to her boss who mostly ignored them. She also said she was told not to interfere with the Chinese government and to keep quiet. She said she fled China for the U.S. because she feared the Chinese government would make her “disappear” for speaking out as they have with others.

WHO in Reversal, Affirms Virus May Be Airborne Indoors

The World Health Organization on Thursday formally acknowledged that droplets carrying the coronavirus may be airborne indoors and that people who spend long periods in crowded settings with inadequate ventilation may be at risk of becoming infected, a reversal that many scientists said was long overdue. The agency also acknowledged unequivocally that the virus can be transmitted by people who do not have symptoms. The agency now says transmission of the virus by aerosols, or tiny droplets, may have been responsible for “outbreaks of Covid-19 reported in some closed settings, such as restaurants, nightclubs, places of worship or places of work where people may be shouting, talking, or singing.”

Covid-19 Cases Continue to Rise

While 33 states saw an increase in new cases compared to last week, Miami-Dade County in South Florida is witnessing a staggering 33.5% positivity rate, or percentage of people tested who test positive for the coronavirus. Over 13 days, hospitalizations in Miami-Dade County have gone up by 76%, the number of ICU beds being used has increased by 86% and the use of ventilators has soared by 124%. Over 40 hospitals in Florida hit their limit in ICU capacity over the weekend. As the pandemic reached new highs in Florida and across the world, New York City provided a glimmer of hope: zero deaths Sunday for the first time in four months. However, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is seeing a surge in positive cases of coronavirus in individuals between the ages of 20 and 29, calling it a “problem” that needs to be addressed.

  • In updated guidance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said its “best estimate” is that 40 percent of people infected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic.

Covid-19 Deaths Turn Upward

The daily death toll from America’s coronavirus crisis rose last week amid a dramatic surge in confirmed infections across the South and West that has inundated hospitals with ill patients and forced several states to pause or reverse plans to reopen businesses. Texas, Arizona and South Carolina have all seen their death tolls rise by more than 100 percent in the past four weeks. Mississippi, Tennessee, California and Louisiana have seen at least a 10 percent jump in deaths over that time span. Deaths are a lagging indicator, so it isn’t a surprise that deaths are increasing following such large increases in the number of cases.

Labs Overwhelmed by Covid-19 Testing

America’s testing system is once again strained and labs are struggling to keep pace as coronavirus rages faster than ever in the South and West. From Florida to California, large and small labs running 24/7 can’t process samples quickly enough from millions of Americans tested every week. That means COVID-19 test results are delayed a week or longer in hotspot communities, undercutting public health efforts to track, isolate and prevent spread. The number of daily tests reached an all-time high of more than 719,000 on July 3 and averaged nearly 640,000 each day this past week. Other than hospital patients, whom labs are prioritizing, delays are widespread.

California County’s Coronavirus Numbers Were Inflated

During the peak of the coronavirus pandemic in April and May, Orange County, California health care officials reported inaccurate numbers. For more than five weeks, the county incorrectly included 30,000 serology tests – used to detect whether or not a person has antibodies for the virus, suggesting they previously had an infection – into their “cumulative tests to date” figures, the Los Angeles Times reported. The mistake inflated both the county’s testing numbers and the number of positive coronavirus cases. Serology tests give health care providers an idea of how prevalent the virus is in their area but they aren’t reliable, especially when determining whether or not a person actively has the infection.

Mutation in Arizona Coronavirus May Explain Recent Surge

Over 90% of  coronavirus samples from Arizona in a recent genetic analysis have a mutation that researchers hypothesize makes the virus more infectious. Researchers have identified a mutated strain that they believe could help explain the recent explosion of cases in the state. This genetic mutation affects the spikes on the outside of the virus that the virus uses to attach to and infect host cells, making the virus more infectious. Arizona reported a relatively low 1,357 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, but stress on hospitals remained high. ICU beds and ventilators in use by suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients both hit new records on Sunday. In addition, the 7-day average of deaths increased to over 60/day, up from 15/day on May 27.

Minorities Hit Hard by Covid-19 at Meat Plants

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says fewer than half the states provided detailed data for a study of COVID-19 infections in meat plants. With the information they do have, the CDC says 87% of coronavirus infections in meat and poultry plants in the states that provided data were among minorities, especially Latino workers, who made up around 30% of the meat processing workforce but accounted for 56% of cases. Another 19% of infected workers were Black and 12% were Asian. With data from 23 states, the CDC said it had identified 17,358 cases of COVID-19, including 91 deaths, at 264 meat and poultry plants through May 31.

New Study Says Masks Reduce Risk of Infections by 65%

Health experts have stressed the importance of wearing a mask to limit the possibility of infecting others with COVID-19, but a range of new research now suggests they also protect the wearer, according to a report Monday. We’ve learned more due to research and additional scientific evidence and now we know [that] not only wearing a mask prevents the person wearing the mask to transmit to others, but wearing the mask protects the person who’s wearing it,” said Dean Blumberg, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UC Davis Children’s Hospital. “So the wearer of the mask, even the standard rectangular surgical masks … will decrease the risk of infection by the person wearing the mask by about 65 percent.” He added that N95 masks do an even better job at protecting people from the virus, but they are in short supply and are needed for healthcare professionals.

  • Starbucks will now require customers and employees to wear face masks when they enter any of its stores. At select locations where a local government mandate is not in place, customers who may not be wearing a facial covering will have various options to order their Starbucks, including ordering at the drive-thru, curbside pickup through the Starbucks app or placing an order for delivery through Starbucks Delivers.

CDC Director Refuses to Change School Guidelines Despite Trump Pressure

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will not revise its guidelines for reopening schools despite calls from President Donald Trump and the White House to do so, agency Director Dr. Robert Redfield said Thursday. As anxious parents and educators across the country hand wring over how to safely bring children back to the classroom, the discord between Trump and his top health advisers over appropriate precautions has added another layer of uncertainty. The CDC guidelines for schools to reopen contain steps to keep children safe, including keeping desks to be placed six feet apart and for children to use cloth face coverings. The CDC suggests the closing of communal areas like dining rooms and playgrounds and the installation of physical barriers like sneeze guards where necessary.

  • White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Monday it will be up to local governments to determine how best to bring students back to the classroom this fall after the coronavirus closings.

Lack of Teachers to Hinder School Reopenings

As if school officials didn’t already have a long enough to-do list before reopening classrooms this fall amid a global pandemic, here’s one more thing to add: not enough teachers. Some teachers are refusing to come back in the fall due to fears of the coronavirus. Some are sick or will be sick with the virus. Some have already died. Thus, schools will need to develop an expanded pool of substitute teachers. Schools across the nation struggle during normal times to find enough substitute teachers to fill classrooms when the assigned teacher calls in sick or must attend a training session. With increased teacher absences expected due to COVID-19, the need for subs is even greater. “It is a mathematical certainty that we are not going to have enough teachers to reopen schools,” said Nicola Soares, president of Kelly Education, the school staffing division of Troy, Michigan-based Kelly Services.

  • As officials play political football with K-12 school re-openings, parents are formulating their own game plans for the fall. Families across the nation are busy making their own calculations about whether to send children back to school, with many saying they will keep their children at home this fall.

Hong Kong Suspends Plans for School Reopening

Hong Kong officials announced Friday that they are suspending classes in kindergarten, primary, and secondary schools after a recent spike in new coronavirus cases. Over the last week, there have been 123 new cases of COVID-19 recorded, 65 of which were attributed to local transmission, but health officials are still grappling with the origins of the majority of new cases. Schools have mostly been closed since February after students shifted to online and remote learning at the start of the pandemic, but reopened with tighter restrictions, like mandatory masks for teachers and students in May.

Latin American Leaders Test Positive for Covid-19

Bolivia’s interim president, Jeanine Áñez, has tested positive for COVID-19. “I feel good, I feel strong, I will continue to work virtually from my isolation,” she says in a video posted to her Twitter account. Three cabinet ministers in her administration have also tested positive, including one who is hospitalized. Her announcement comes the same week Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro revealed his own coronavirus diagnosis. Meanwhile, Venezuela’s No. 2 leader, socialist party chief Diosdado Cabello, has also tested positive.

Churches Avoiding Talking About the Racial Divide

More than 6 in 10 Black Christians say it’s important for sermons to address topics like racial relations and immigration, according to a recent Pew Research Center study. (Nearly a quarter called it “essential.”) White Christians did not agree: More than 6 in 10 said those topics are not essential for pastor to examine, with 40% insisting that race and immigration should not be mentioned at all at church. Pew’s survey was conducted before George Floyd’s killing made international news and sparked nationwide protests. In a survey from last summer, only 35% of White Christians said they were motivated to address racial injustice; and less than 2 in 5 believed the United States has a race problem, according to a 2019 poll by the Barna Research Group, a Christian public opinion firm based in California.

AG Barr Reports 150 Arrests and 500 Investigation of Riots

Attorney General Bill Barr gave an update Thursday on the federal investigations into rioting that took place across the nation in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death. The attorney general said that “legitimate demonstrations” were “hijacked” by outside actors, and that federal law enforcement is “building up our intelligence” on the alleged instigators. “We already arrested over 150 people on federal charges, and we have over 500 investigations underway across the nation focused on these hardcore instigators involved in this rioting,” Barr said

Vehicular Terrorism Increasing Rapidly Midst Protests

Amid thousands of protests nationwide against police brutality, dozens of drivers have plowed into crowds of protesters marching in roadways, raising questions about the drivers’ motivations. There have been at least 66 incidents of cars driving into protesters between May 27 and July 6, including 59 by civilians and seven by law enforcement. There have been two fatalities — in Seattle and in Bakersfield, California — and at least 24 of the civilian perpetrators have been charged by law enforcement While witnesses, law enforcement and terrorism experts say that some of the vehicle incidents appear to be targeted and politically motivated, others appear to be situations where the driver became frightened or enraged by protesters surrounding their vehicle.

Mother Killed for Saying ‘All Lives Matter’

Police in Indianapolis are investigating the murder of a young mother who was allegedly killed for telling Black Lives Matter activists that “All Lives Matter.” Twenty-four-year-old Jessica Doty Whitaker was shot in the head and killed last Sunday after a Fourth of July weekend celebration. According to the victim’s family, the shooting started with an argument over Black Lives Matter and language. Eventually the two sides separated and walked away from each other, until witnesses claim the killer opened fire from a nearby bridge and ran away.

NYC Mayor Nixes Large Events — Except BLM Protests

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has canceled all large events and gatherings through September to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus — except Black Lives Matter protests. Mayor. de Blasio banned all street fairs, outdoor concerts, parades and other mass get-togethers until at least Sept. 30, saying “it’s all about health and safety first” and “we actually look at the science.” Asked if he would prohibit those, Mayor. de Blasio said, “If you’re just talking about health, we would always say, hey, folks, you know, stay home if you can, But we understand that this moment in history people are talking about the need for historic changes.” The mayor participated in the painting Thursday of a large “Black Lives Matter” sign on Fifth Avenue in front of Trump Tower, joining the Rev. Al Sharpton and a crowd of protesters.

NYC Cops Submit 400% More Retirement Requests

New York’s Finest are putting in for retirement faster than the NYPD can handle, while citing a lack of respect and the loss of overtime pay, the NY Post reported. A surge of city cops filing papers during the past week more than quadrupled last year’s number as the city grapples with a surge of shootings and the ‘defund police’ movement. Mayor Bill de Blasio has already proposed a $1 billion budget cut (about 16% of total budget).

  • New York City has been dealing withan alarming surge in gun violence. The NYPD on Monday reported 28 more shootings over the weekend, including a 1-year old child.

Economic News

1.3 million workers filed first time claims for unemployment insurance last week, the Labor Department said Thursday. That latest round of applications means roughly 50 million Americans have made initial jobless benefits claims in just 16 weeks. About 1.43 million sought such aid the previous week, and the latest number marks the 14th week in a row that initial claims have declined. But it’s also the 16th week in a row that first time applications for unemployment insurance stayed above 1 million. Since 1967, unemployment claims have never even come close to a million despite six recessions.

Americans’ credit card debt is shrinking rapidly during the coronavirus recession. That’s a sharp contrast with the last two economic downturns. The amount of consumer revolving credit, which is mostly credit cards, plunged by another $24 billion in May, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday. This costly form of debt is down more than $100 billion since hitting a record high in February and is now below $1 trillion for the first time in nearly three years.

Gripped by one of the deepest recessions since the 1930s, state governments across the country are having to race to catch up with escalating demand for unemployment assistance. Many lacked the technology to deal with the massive wave of layoffs and furloughs. The CARES Act created a federally funded Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that allows furloughed, self-employed, independent contractors, temporary and gig workers to seek benefits – people who previously didn’t qualify under traditional unemployment. States had to repurpose their computer systems on the fly

Walt Disney World began a phased reopening Saturday in Orlando, Florida, nearly four months after the theme park shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Park capacity will be limited and visitors will undergo a temperature check and be required to wear face masks. However they have reportedly opened several designated spaces throughout its theme parks where visitors can remove required facial coverings, which critics say is irresponsible, especially with COVID-19 cases still on the rise in Florida which recorded its largest weekly increase in cases this past week.

  • Hong Kong Disneyland, which reopened on June 18, is shutting down temporarily Monday after Hong Kong tightened its social-distancing measures following a rise of 52 new coronavirus cases in the city.

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. plans to close 200 locations, approximately 21% of its namesake stores, over the next two years, the company announced Wednesday. RTW Retailwinds, which owns women’s retailer New York & Co., filed for bankruptcy Monday.

Hamas Leader Escapes Gaza to Israel with Classified Information

According to a report from within Gaza cited by Israel’s Channel 12, a senior Hamas commander recently escaped the Strip, absconding with a laptop containing “classified materials.” The Channel 12 report added that the individual is suspected of collaborating with Israel and referred to him as the second senior Hamas operative suspected of cooperating with Israel in recent days. In the wake of this incident, Hamas reportedly embarked on a wave of arrests, snatching up dozens of suspects and seizing $500,000 in cash, in addition to communications equipment. The investigation appears to point to the potential existence of other senior Hamas commanders involved in espionage activities with Israel.

UK to Release 29 Terrorist Prisoners

Twenty-nine terrorists are due to be released from prison within the next three years, with 11 of them back on the streets before April and three released by September. It means the security services will be put under huge pressure monitoring the newly released danger men. Once freed, these extremists are subject to security measures in a bid to stop them radicalizing others or going on the rampage themselves. But the difficulties surrounding the issue were highlighted by two recent atrocities in London, carried out by recently released prisoners. Usman Khan killed two people in a knife attack at Fishmongers’ Hall, on London Bridge, last November. Then five months ago, Sudesh Amman stabbed two people in Streatham, south London, before being shot dead by police. He too had recently been released and was supposedly under active surveillance.

Taliban, Despite ‘Peace’ Talks, Led The World in 2019 Terrorist Attacks

Almost 8,500 terrorist attacks took place in 2019, killing more than 20,300 people – some 5,460 were known perpetrators and 14,840 were victims, according to a report released this week by the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism. But even as talks intensified between the United States and the Taliban in Doha to ink a “peace deal” in Afghanistan, the insurgency was by far the greatest perpetrators of attacks throughout all of last year, sustaining a “longstanding upward trend.”

Major Explosion Rocks Iran Again, The 3rd Blast In 3 Weeks

An explosion rocked western Tehran early Friday, state media reported, causing widespread power failures in two residential areas and unnerving Iranians awakened for the third consecutive week by an early-morning blast. The precise location of Friday’s explosion was unclear, but analysts said there were several military and training facilities in the area that could be the target of sabotage. A cause was not immediately determined. “There are two underground facilities, a site associated with chemical weapons research and an unidentified military production site,” said Fabian Hinz, an Iran military expert and research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. Iran blames Israeli sabotage, but Israel claims innocence.

Mexican Border Arrests Up 40% in June

The number of illegal immigrants nabbed traversing the southern border surged 40% in June, rebounding from a coronavirus lull that had pushed traffic to its lowest level in years. The resurgence was chiefly powered by adult illegal immigrants from Mexico, who made up nearly 80% of the flow. The number of children and parents — who made up last year’s record surge — remained relatively low, at about 10%.The vast majority of border jumpers were quickly returned to their countries, thanks to the coronavirus public health emergency, which allows the government to expel people. Drug seizures also rose, with cocaine up 50% in June and marijuana and fentanyl up even more. Methamphetamine seizures dropped 15%.

U.S. & China Trade Personal Sanctions

Last week, the U.S. sanctioned three Chinese officials over alleged human rights abuses against Muslims in the region of Xinjiang. On Monday, China retaliated with sanctions of its own against four US officials—Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, Rep. Chris Smith, and Sam Brownback, who is the U.S ambassador for international religious freedom. The two senators and Smith sit on the U.S. Congressional Executive Commission on China, and all have been critical of Beijing’s treatment of ethnic Uighurs.

Weather

Hot temperatures from over the weekend will linger to start the week as the threat for severe weather develops on Monday across the central part of the country. Record-breaking heat and dangerous humidity as part of an intense heat wave will persist over a widespread area of the U.S, from Southern California all the way to parts of the Southern Plains and Gulf Coast. Over 19 million Americans are under excessive heat warnings across the Southwest and into parts of Texas and Louisiana.

Tropical Storm Fay flooded streets, closed roads and knocked down trees and powerlines Friday in New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware. The storm made landfall near Atlantic City, New Jersey, at around 4:45 p.m. EST Friday. Several roads were closed or lanes blocked late Friday afternoon across the region. The storm also caused President Donald Trump to cancel a rally he had planned for Saturday in New Hampshire.

Signs of the Times (7/8/20)

July 8, 2020

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

Supreme Court Supports Religious Freedom in Hiring

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

Supreme Court Rules Employers Can Opt Out of Birth Control Mandate

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

SCOTUS Rules Unanimously that States Can Bind Presidential Electors’ Votes

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

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

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

President Trump Orders Creation of National Garden of Heroes

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

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

University of California Names First Black President

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

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

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

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

Statues Continue to be Torn Down

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

Statue of Abolitionist Frederick Douglas Torn Down

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

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

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

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

School Reopenings Still a Quandary

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

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

International Students to Be Forced Out if Schools Online Only

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

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

New Record Set Tuesday in Number of Coronavirus Cases

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

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

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

Overall Covid-19 Death Rate Continues to Fall

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

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

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

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

21 States Mandate Wearing Face Masks in Public

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

Patients in Hospitals for Other Reasons are Contracting Covid-19

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

239 Scientists Urge WHO to Admit Coronavirus Airborne Transmission

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

Original China Travel Ban Was Full of Holes

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

Young People Also Requiring Hospitalization with Covid-19

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

Blacks & Latinos More Likely to Be Infected & Die

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

Courts Shutdown Three Pipelines

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

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

Walgreens & CVS Ramping Up In-Store Health Care

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

Thousands of Companies Sue Insurance Companies for Covid-19 Issues

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

Renters Face Upcoming Cliff by End of July

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

Economic News

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

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

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

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

Israel Fights Second Wave of Coronavirus

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

Australia Seals Off Entire State from Rest of Nation over Coronavirus

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

Brazil’s President Tests Positive for Covid-19

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

Multiple Rockets Fired from Gaza into Israel Sunday

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

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

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

Fireworks Cause Dozens of Wildfires in California

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

Weather

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

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

Signs of the Times (7/4/20)

July 4, 2020

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

Declaration of Independence Also Declares Dependence on God

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

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

California Bans Singing in Church

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

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

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

Strong Independence Day Message from President Trump

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

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

150 Charged with Arson, Murder & Destruction of Property

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

WHO Admits: China Never Warned About Coronavirus Outbreak

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

Covid-19 Cases Continue to Rise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Digital Health Certificate Apps Have Arrived

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

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

Subpoenas Issued to 8 New Yorkers Who Avoided Contact Tracers

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

Research/Autopsies Helping to Understand Covid-19

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

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

U.S. Buys Up World Stock of Remdesivir

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

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

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

Seattle Police Clear Out the CHOP Zone

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

Memphis Police Clear Downtown Plaza

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

Seattle Driver Plows Through Protest Crowd

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

Morale Among Police Officers is Plummeting

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

RV Rentals Rise as Americans Seek Isolated Vacations

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

Massachusetts Town Officially Recognized Polyamorous Domestic Partnerships

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

Economic News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Israel Blamed for Explosion at Iranian Nuclear Site

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

Democrats Divided Over Aid to Israel

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

Security Deteriorating in West Africa

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

New Hong Kong Anti-Protest Law Enforced

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

Weather

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

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

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

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

One Nation Under God

July 4, 2020

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

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

Finding Joy in the Midst of Darkness

July 1, 2020

Podcast

Written Version

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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