Archive for February, 2021

Signs of the Times (2/27/21)

February 27, 2021

“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” (Romans 5:3-5)

These news items are meant to be the basis for prayer, so please pray.

Equality Act Passed by House, Moves on Now to Senate

House Democrats on Thursday passed the Equality Act, taking their cues from President Biden as he pushes transgender rights to the forefront over warnings of dire repercussions for religious freedom, women’s sports and female privacy. The bill, which would add sex, gender identity and sexual orientation to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, was approved 224-206, with three Republicans voting in favor of the measure, a drop from the eight who supported the measure in 2019. But the road through the 50-50 Senate remains uncertain. Democrats would need 10 Republicans to join them in order to stave off a filibuster.

Equality Act Creates ‘Right’ to Kill Babies

The Equality Act contains language that could be construed to create a right to demand abortion from health care providers, and likely would place at risk the authority of the government to prohibit taxpayer-funded abortions, reports LifeNews. The Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by defining “sex” to include “pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.” Abortion is considered a “related medical condition” by pro-abortionists. “If enacted, H.R. 5 would open the door for widespread litigation wherein any attempt to restrict abortion, including the funding of abortion, would constitute discrimination,” said Jennifer Popik, J.D., director of federal legislation for the National Right to Life Committee.

Equality Act calls Bible a Bigoted Document, Rabbis Say

The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), representing over 1500 traditional, Orthodox rabbis in matters of public policy, called today for the rejection of the Equality Act that the U.S. House approved last Thursday as “a direct attack on Jewish religious values and practices.” For example, the text refers to “the sex stereotype that marriage should only be between heterosexual couples” as a discriminatory belief. “The Equality Act expressly declares that the Book of Genesis [see 2:24] and all of the Jewish laws pertaining to marriage as a sanctified union between man and woman… are nothing more than engagement in discriminatory stereotypes. This is a disgraceful attack upon Jewish Biblical beliefs, rendered no more excusable by the fact that other traditional religious groups have similar tenets.” Furthermore, “A law which would require recognition of the gender a person prefers to be… would demand we cease to operate in accordance with our sincerely-held beliefs, moral values and religious education — expressly violating our religious liberty.”

Equality Act a ‘Pandora’s Box of Evil’ Says Liberty Counsel

The so-called “Equality Act” will devastate Christian schools from pre-K through college. Noncompliant schools will lose tax exemption (including federal, state and property) and accreditation. Loss of accreditation will be the death of most Christian colleges and universities, notes Liberty Counsel. The radical bill will strip Christian schools and colleges of their accreditation if they don’t comply. The bill will require schools to accept abortion. Schools which offer health insurance for students must include abortion. In addition, biological boys and men will be able to participate in women’s sports which will unfairly punish female contestants. “But worst of all, the bill imposes LGBTQ into every corner of our schools. This includes “Q”—which the bill says stands for ‘Queer’—all the 550 paraphilias (including pedophilia). This applies to staff, teachers, restrooms, lockers, showers, dorms, sports and more. This bill is a Pandora’s Box of evil that will insert itself into scores of federal laws, override all state and local laws, and force religious institutions to accept and promote homosexual, bisexual, transvestite, transexual and any of the 550 paraphilia behaviors,” writes Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel.

Georgia Enacts Law Creating ‘Sanctuary State for People of Faith’

A new law makes Georgia a “sanctuary state for people of faith,” according to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp. The Faith Protection Act was a response to lockdowns and restrictions enacted by state and local authorities in response to the coronavirus pandemic, he said. “I want Georgia to be known as a sanctuary state for people of faith,” Kemp said. “I think we’ve seen around the country there have been a lot of people in power, especially governors around the country, that have denied people that right of religious freedom… We never shut churches down. We asked our pastors and faith leaders across all denominations to work with us and help us flatten the curve and stop the spread, but we also know, and even with a pandemic, it’s important for us to be able to worship.”

Supreme Court Blocks California’s Ban on Indoor Church Services

The U.S. Supreme Court handed California churches a victory Friday, granting injunctive relief to a group that had sued over coronavirus lockdown rules that banned indoor services. The churches will be allowed to hold indoor services as they await a decision on their appeal in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is hearing their case but had denied a motion to suspend the ban during it. The 6-3 decision came with the Court’s liberal justices in dissent. The churches sued Santa Clara County earlier this month after the county continued to ban indoor services despite an earlier Supreme Court ruling that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s complete ban violated the First Amendment.

House Passes COVID Relief Bill with $1,400 Stimulus Checks

The Democratically-controlled House approved a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package early Saturday, a key step for a measure that would provide millions of Americans $1,400 stimulus payments, ramp up vaccine distribution and extend unemployment aid through the summer. The bill, known as the American Rescue Plan, passed 219-212. No Republicans voted for it, and two Democrats voted against it. The measure now heads to the Senate where it faces a rocky road ahead in the evenly divided chamber. No Senate Republicans are expected to support the bill, citing its size and scope, so Democrats will have to count on every one of their 50 senators — and a tie-breaking 51st vote from Vice President Kamala Harris

$15 Minimum Wage Ruled Out of Stimulus Package

Senate Democrats are seeking another way to raise hourly wages for Americans after  the Senate Parliamentarian ruled that a minimum wage hike to $15 an hour could not stay in President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 stimulus plan making its way through Congress. Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough ruled Thursday the provision raising the wage from $7.25 to $15 by 2025 would have to be removed and considered as a standalone bill or as part of other legislation. She noted that the wage increase did not meet the criteria to be included in the bill under the reconciliation process. The decision means that any minimum wage increase provisions cannot be passed with a simple Senate majority and would require bipartisan support.

  • The Parliamentarian of the United States Senate is the official advisor to the Senate on the interpretation of Standing Rules of the United States Senate and parliamentary procedure. MacDonough is an American lawyer and has been the Parliamentarian of the Senate since 2012. She is the first woman to hold the position. Parliamentarian rulings are seldom challenged.

House Votes to Protect 2.7 Million Acres in Western ‘Land Grab’

The House voted Friday to cordon off nearly three million acres of Western land in the name of environmental protection, overriding Republicans who called it a “massive land grab” that will kill jobs, increase wildfire danger and reduce access to public lands. The Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act, approved by a vote of 227 to 200, combined eight Democrat-sponsored bills to create another 1.5 million acres of federal wilderness, including more than 1,000 river miles, and withdraw 1.2 million acres from new oil and mining claims. The package affecting four states—Arizona, California, Colorado and Washington—will ensure that “iconic landscapes like the Grand Canyon and Colorado’s Thompson Divide are permanently protected from the irreversible threats posed by extraction,” said the House Natural Resources Committee.

Big Tech Censorship of Conservatives & Christians Continues to Escalate

The National Pulse editor and “War Room” host Raheem Kassam said he was locked out of his Twitter account without an explanation. “They’ve done it again. Of course they don’t give a reason,” he wrote on Parler and Gab. Later, Kassam asked “why did Twitter suspend me right as we published this story?” referring to a story alleging that Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), a nominee to chair the Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus have close ties with Chinese Communist Party (CCP) front groups. Kassam was the previous editor-in-chief for Breitbart News.

  • It’s Black History Month, but a highly acclaimed PBS documentary on the only African-American on the U.S. Supreme Court – and only the second ever – no longer is streaming on Amazon Prime. “Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words” is available on other sites, but not Amazon which merely says it is “unavailable.” Not coincidentally, on Monday Thomas issued a scathing dissenting opinion in which he criticized the Supreme Court for refusing to hear two pivotal Pennsylvania cases challenging the counting of ballots in the 2020 election.

Worrisome Coronavirus Variant Found in New York City

Two separate teams of researchers said this week they have found a worrying new coronavirus variant in New York City and elsewhere in the Northeast that carries mutations that help it evade the body’s natural immune response — as well as the effects of monoclonal antibody treatments. Genomics researchers have named the variant B.1.526. It appears in people affected in diverse neighborhoods of New York City, they said, and is “scattered in the Northeast.” One of the mutations in this variant is the same concerning change found in the variant first seen in South Africa and known as B.1.351. It appears to evade, somewhat, the body’s response to vaccines, as well. And it’s becoming more common.

Pfizer Testing Ways to Combat Coronavirus Variants

Pfizer says it is looking into two separate ways to provide protection against new and more infectious COVID variants, especially the one first detected in South Africa.. Board member Dr. Scott Gottlieb says the company is investigating whether a third shot of the current vaccine will provide extra protection against variants. He says Pfizer and partner BioNTech are also investigating whether the formulation can be modified to make the vaccine “protective no matter how the coronavirus mutates into infectious variants. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said that the company’s goal is to be able to produce a modified vaccine within 100 days of a new coronavirus variant emerging.

Many Nurses Quitting Due to Pandemic Fatigue

Almost a year into the Covid-19 pandemic, America’s nurses — who for almost 20 years have been voted the country’s most trusted professionals — are running on empty. They’ve reused PPE, canceled PTO and worked extended shifts for employers they don’t always feel value their safety. The stress and lack of support has driven many nurses to quit their jobs. And during the worst health crisis the U.S. has seen in more than a century, the health care system can’t afford to lose them. “The mental-health impact this is going to have on nurses … I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface of it yet,” nurse Rachel Ellsworth said. After months of debating the decision, she finally quit her job in January. “It broke me,” she said. “It was just too much.”

Pentagon Report Reveals White Supremacists in the Ranks

A Pentagon report on extremism gives disturbing insight into how White supremacists are active in the military and offers recommendations to better identify domestic extremists and prevent them from serving. While the report, commissioned by Congress and dated October 2020, concluded that extremist views were not widespread and identified “a low number of cases in absolute terms,” it underlines the urgency of the problem because “individuals with extremist affiliations and military experience are a concern to U.S. national security because of their proven ability to execute high-impact events.” At least 27 current or former members of the U.S. military are facing federal charges in connection with the Capital riot.

Biden Lifts Trump’s Pause on Green Card Immigration

President Biden reversed yet another order from his predecessor Wednesday, lifting the “pause” on immigration that former President Trump introduced in April last year. Biden said the Trump freeze on green cards, which was extended after being issued for an initial 60 days, did not protect the US economy as Trump claimed, the New York Times reports. “To the contrary it harms the United States, including by preventing certain family members of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents from joining their families here,” Biden said. “It also harms industries in the United States that utilize talent from around the world.”

New Tent Facility in Texas to Hold Migrant Surge

The Biden administration is preparing to open a new tent facility in Texas to hold migrants crossing the border, as officials scramble to deal with the combination of a surge in numbers and the challenges of COVID-19. The soft-sided facility is being set up in addition to a similar 185,000-square-foot site in Donna, Texas, that was opened at the beginning of the month. There has been an increase in the number of migrants moving to the border in recent weeks, coming amid a number of sweeping changes to Trump-era immigration and border security policies by the Biden administration.

Supreme Court Tosses Pennsylvania Election Lawsuit but Opens Door to More Fraud

The Supreme Court announced that it won’t take up lawsuits challenging a Pennsylvania state court decision that relaxed ballot-integrity measures, including a move to extend the ballot-receipt deadline during the November election by three days amid the coronavirus pandemic. Former President Trump and the state’s Republican Party urged the court to take up a review of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling. In his dissenting opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas said, “That decision to rewrite the rules seems to have affected too few ballots to change the outcome of any federal election. But that may not be the case in the future… These cases provide us with an ideal opportunity to address just what authority non-legislative officials have to set election rules, and to do so well before the next election cycle. The refusal to do so is inexplicable.”

U.S. Experiencing a Pandemic of Adolescent Mental Illness

Dr. Brian Alverson, director of the Division of Pediatric Hospital Medicine at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, says he has witnessed what he describes as “a massive pandemic of mentally ill adolescents,” many of them admitted to his hospital. He referred to a recent Friday, “when I looked at the census of the hospital. Three-quarters of the hospital was adolescents who wanted to hurt themselves because of mental illness.” “Adolescence emphasizes the needs for socialization,” he said, which they are not getting because of the Covid-19 lockdowns. “It’s important developmentally to reach this period when you need to rely on friends as much as you do previously on family. It’s a time to explore outside the family domain” – a time “to go to each other’s houses and have these experiences, learn how to get along, how to fight, how to disagree, how to fall in love. Those are all normative.”

Declining Sperm Count Jeopardizes Humanity’s Survival

Falling sperm counts and changes to sexual development are “threatening human survival” and leading to a fertility crisis, a leading epidemiologist has warned. Shanna Swan, an environmental and reproductive epidemiologist at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, warns that the impending fertility crisis poses a global threat. “The current state of reproductive affairs can’t continue much longer without threatening human survival,” she writes in her recently released book, Count Down. It comes after a study she co-authored in 2017 found that sperm counts in the west had plummeted by 59% between 1973 and 2011. Now, Swan says, following current projections, the median sperm count is set to reach zero in 2045. Swan points to lifestyles and chemical exposures that are changing and threatening human sexual development and fertility. Such is the gravity of the threats they pose, she argues, that humans could become an endangered species.

Economic News

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits declined last week but remains higher than the normal 250,000 or so. Applications for benefits declined 111,000 from the previous week to a seasonally adjusted 730,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. It is the lowest figure since late November. The latest figures come as the job market has made scant progress in the past three months. Hiring averaged just 29,000 a month from November through January. Though the unemployment rate was 6.3% in January, a broader measure that includes people who have given up on their job searches is closer to 10%.

U.S. oil prices have skyrocketed 69% since November’s election based on Thursday’s close at $63.50 a barrel. That’s by far the biggest post-election gain through this point in the presidential cycle since oil futures began trading in 1983. Gasoline prices are also on the rise, climbing 27% since the election, with the national average hitting $2.70 a gallon this week. Wall Street, backed by easy money from the Federal Reserve, is making a massive bet that Americans’ thirst for oil will rise dramatically.

Best Buy said Thursday that it laid off 5,000 workers this month and is planning to close more stores this year as more consumers buy electronics online. Fry’s Electronics said Wednesday that it would abruptly close all of its stores overnight, ending nearly four-decades in business.

Costco will raise its minimum wage to $16 an hour starting next week, CEO Craig Jelinek said during a Senate Budget Committee hearing on Thursday. Two years ago, Costco moved its starting hourly wage to $15 everywhere in the U.S. Effective next week, the starting wage will go to $16, said CEO Craig Jelinek.

U.S. Launches Airstrike Against Iranian Targets in Syria

The U.S. launched airstrikes in Syria, targeting facilities near the Iraqi border used by Iranian-backed militia groups. The Pentagon said the strikes, Biden’s first military action, were retaliation for a rocket attack in Iraq earlier this month that killed one civilian contractor and wounded a U.S. service member and other coalition troops. Syria war monitoring groups said the strikes hit trucks moving weapons to a base for Iranian-backed militias in Boukamal. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle criticized the strike saying President Biden shouldn’t have proceeded with warlike action without Congressional approval.

  • Russia, a key military ally of the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, on Friday sharply condemned the U.S. airstrike. Russia has been fighting alongside Syrian government forces in the country’s nine-year civil war, clashing repeatedly with U.S. forces and U.S.-allied Kurds who have been battling the terror group Islamic State on the same battlefield..

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Complicit in Jamal Khashoggi’s Murder U.S. Says

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and de facto ruler, Mohammad Bin Salman, approved the operation “to capture or kill” Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, according to a newly declassified U.S. intelligence report released Friday. U.S. intelligence officials came to that conclusion based on the crown prince’s “absolute control,” the direct involvement of one of his key advisers in Khashoggi’s murder, and “the Crown Prince’s support for using violent measures to silence dissidents abroad,” the report states. Lawmakers said the long-anticipated report demands a U.S. response – including possible penalties for the crown prince, who is known by his initials as MBS. Saudi Arabia bluntly rejected the report saying, ““The government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia completely rejects the negative, false and unacceptable assessment in the report pertaining to the kingdom’s leadership, and notes that the report contained inaccurate information and conclusions.”

Nigeria’s Boko Haram’s Rocket Attack Kills 10

Militants have killed at least 10 people last Tuesday in Nigeria by using rocket-propelled grenades, which local officials describe as a “new trend”. Suspected Boko Haram militants fired from the outskirts of the northeastern city of Maiduguri into densely populated areas, according to Borno state governor Babagana Zulumon. He said the use of these weapons “has to be stopped”. It is the worst attack of its kind in Maiduguri in a year. The city is the birthplace of Boko Haram. The militants came through Boboshe village, a known Boko Haram enclave, They then crossed the ditch fortification around Maiduguri and started shooting sporadically which sent people scrambling for safety. Explosives began to rain down near the University of Maiduguri,

Environment

More manatee deaths have been documented through the first two months of the year than were recorded during those same two months in 2019 and 2020 combined, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission records. Through Feb. 12, the state has recorded 317 manatee deaths. The past five-year average shows 100 documented deaths each full year. The current rate puts the state on pace to record more than 2,100 deaths this year, which could be as much as a third of the state’s documented population. The theory is that sea grass losses over the past few decades have left manatees with too little food to survive. It’s another example of Florida’s water quality issues, from blue-green algae to red tide and brown algae.

Weather

More than 120,000 people have been displaced by flooding that has inundated several cities in the Amazon rainforest, and more rain is expected. The state of Acre, in northwest Brazil, on the border with Peru, declared a state of disaster in 10 cities after rivers overflowed their banks. The flooding comes as Acre is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic with 55,881 infected. In addition, more than 10,000 people in Acre have contracted dengue since the beginning of the year.

Signs of the Times (2/24/21)

February 24, 2021

The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is on Me; because Jehovah has anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to preach the acceptable year of Jehovah and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to appoint to those who mourn in Zion, to give to them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the mantle of praise for the spirit of heaviness; so that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of Jehovah, that He might be glorified.. (Isaiah 61-3)

Equality Act Dangerous for Christians, Violates Biblical Standards, Forces Compliance

Democrats are racing to pass the most dangerous bill for Christians to ever be considered by Congress, reports Liberty Counsel. “This bill is the most radical bill ever introduced in Congress to advance the LGBTQ agenda and abortion.” Deceptively misnamed the “Equality Act,” the bill states that religious freedom cannot be used as a defense. HR 5 elevates “sexual orientation and gender identity” to the same protected category as race. HR 5 applies to a person’s “actual or perceived romantic, emotional, physical, or sexual attraction to other persons or lack thereof on the basis of gender. Voting is expected to begin Thursday.

The impact for Christians is manifold:

  • Biological men will have access to women’s sports, bathrooms, locker rooms, dressing rooms, showers and shelters
  • Pastors could be forced to officiate same-sex ceremonies and churches would have to offer use of their buildings to LGBTQ groups or lose tax-exempt status for non-compliance and face lawsuits
  • Churches and religious schools would be forced to hire staff involved in LGBTQ conduct, even to visible positions of authority, and give them complete access to all children.
  • The bill sanctions abortions and the removal of pro-life protections
  • It introduces explicit content in school curriculum across the nation and encourages children toward experimental cross-sex hormones and surgery.
  • The overall effect is to make Biblical beliefs unconstitutional and unlawful.

A Record 5.6% of U.S. Adults Now Identify as LGBTQ

A record number of U.S. adults – 5.6% – identify as LGBTQ, an increase propelled by the younger generation, a Gallup poll released Wednesday shows. The survey marks more than a 1 percentage point jump from the last poll in 2017 in which 4.5% of adults identified as LGBTQ. Generation Z adults (those 18 to 23) show 1 in 6, identifying as LGBTQ, or 15.9%,. In each older generation, LGBTQ identification is lower, including 2% or less of respondents born before 1965.

  • This demonstrates the ongoing degradation of Biblical morality in a world increasingly rejecting God.

Planned Parenthood Killed 354,871 Babies Last Year with $618 Million of Taxpayer Money

Planned Parenthood’s recently released annual report documents that the abortion giant killed at least 354,871 babies in their 2019-2020 fiscal year, while receiving over $618 million dollars in taxpayers’ money. This was about a 3% increase over the prior fiscal year. LiveAction calculated that Planned Parenthood “commits 41 abortions for every one prenatal care service and 133 abortions for every adoption referral.”

South Carolina Passes Bill to Ban Almost All Abortions, But Immediately Suspended by Judge

The South Carolina House on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed a pro-life heartbeat bill banning nearly all abortions, following the lead of other states with similar measures that would go into effect if the US Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade. Republican Gov. Henry McMaster has promised to sign the measure as soon as possible. The Senate approved the measure on Jan. 28, after years of failed attempts. Republicans gained three seats in the 2020 elections and the newly energized 30-16 Republican majority made the proposal Senate Bill No. 1.But the new law was suspended by a federal judge Friday on its second day in effect for 14 days until a more substantial hearing on March 9.

Texas is Only State with its Own Electrical Grid Which Failed Dangerously

As winter storm blackouts roiled Texas, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the nonprofit that operates Texas’ electrical grid, has gained sudden notoriety because Texas is the only state that has its own electrical grid. The U.S. has three power grids: one covers the eastern U.S., another the western states and the Texas grid covers nearly the entire state. The Texas grid has been thrust into the national spotlight as extreme energy demand and overloaded frozen utility plants contributed to widespread power outages. Nearly 4.5 million customers went without electricity. The breakdown sparked growing outrage and demands for answers over how Texas – whose leaders as recently as last year taunted California over the state’s rolling blackouts – failed so spectacularly. The Texas’ power grid was “seconds and minutes” away from a catastrophic failure that could have left Texans in the dark for months, officials with the entity that operates the grid said.

  • Failing power plants, rolling blackouts and a spike in demand as Texas is hijacked by a harsh February winter snowstorm – this was the scenario exactly a decade ago as blackouts rolled through Texas. A post-mortem at the time included a recommendation to provide more winter protections for generating facilities, but it was ignored.
  • In the wake of the disastrous days of Texas power outages, five members of the board of the state’s Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) are reportedly stepping down Wednesday. None of them actually live in Texas, the Texas Tribune reports. ERCOT has been sued over the outages, but the organization is arguing in court that it has sovereign immunity, a legal principle protecting certain entities from lawsuits because such suits could disrupt “key government services” if money is drained for litigation.

Biden Rejoins Paris Climate Accord

The United States is back in the Paris climate accord, just 107 days after it left. While Friday’s return is heavily symbolic, world leaders say they expect America to prove its seriousness after four years of being pretty much absent. Biden signed an executive order on his first day in office reversing the pullout ordered by his predecessor, former President Trump. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Thursday that the official American re-entry “is itself very important,” as is Biden’s announcement that the U.S. will return to providing climate aid to poorer nations, as promised in 2009.

U.S. Lost a Year of Life Expectancy in 6 Months, 2.7 Years Lost for Blacks

A study published Thursday found life expectancy in the United States dropped to its lowest level in 15 years, and even lower for Black Americans and Latinos, during the first half of the coronavirus pandemic. Data through June 2020 shows life expectancy at birth for the total U.S. population fell from 2019 by a year to 77.8 years, the lowest since 2006. Life expectancy for Black populations declined the most from 2019 – by 2.7 years, to 72 years – its lowest level since 2001. Latinos experienced the second-biggest decline, falling 1.9 years since 2019 to a life expectancy of 79.9 years, lower than when it was first recorded in 2006. Black Americans are hospitalized with COVID-19 at 2.9 times the rate of white Americans and die at 1.9 times the rate, according to CDC data.

  • The U.S. spend more on healthcare per capita than any other nation. Yet, the United States still ranks a dismal 34th in life expectancy.

The Decline in New Covid-19 Cases Has Leveled Off

Over the past two weeks, the number of new Covid-19 cases has decreased by 37%. However, over the past few days, the 7-day average has leveled off at about 67,000 cases/day. Similarly, Covid-19 deaths are down by 34% over the past two weeks while the number of hospitalizations is down 31%. However, the 7-day average of deaths/day has increased from 1,774 on 2/18 to 2,082 on 2/23. Two opposing forces are affecting infection rates – vaccinations are decreasing the number of people at risk of infections while more infections coronavirus variants have begun to surge across the U.S.

  • Similarly, Arizona’s 7-day average of new cases has leveled off at around 1,700/day, down from a peak of about 10.000/day on 1/12/21, but higher than the low of about 300/day on 9/25/20. And the 7-day average of deaths/day has increased from about 80/day to 95/day over the past 3 days.

Vaccine Schedule Delayed by Winter Weather

Over 130.3 million Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the U.S. as of 2/23, including both first and second shots. Power outages amid ongoing winter storms have affected more than 2,000 COVID-19 vaccination sites, slowing the pace of administering doses, U.S. health officials said last Friday. More than a third of U.S. states have reported shipment delays. The foul winter weather, like the storm that plunged parts of Texas into darkness, has set back the nation’s vaccine rollout, delaing more than 6 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine.

Moderna and Pfizer Vow to Increase Vaccine Production

Drugmakers Moderna and Pfizer vowed to increase the supply of vaccines to the United States. The companies told members of Congress on Tuesday that they anticipate a big surge in doses after making manufacturing improvements — an additional 140 million delivered in the next five weeks.

FDA Panel Recommends Single-Shot Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

The FDA confirmed the safety and efficacy of single-shot Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, especially against severe cases. A Food and Drug Administration review found the vaccine prevented severe illness that results in hospitalizations and deaths in a large clinical trial, paving the way for likely authorization this week.

Mayo/Israel Confirm Vaccine Effectiveness

A team at the Mayo Clinic health system looked at more than 31,000 people across four states who had received at least one dose of either vaccine — and found the vaccines were 75% effective in preventing infection 36 days after the first dose. The vaccines were 89% effective 36 days after the second dose, according to the research. New research from Israel shows that infections were reduced by 75% after only the first of the two-dose inoculation, The Jerusalem Post reported Friday. According to the data, 14 days after injection, the second dose of the vaccine was 95.8% efficient in preventing new infections, and 98% of those inoculated did not develop fever or respiratory symptoms.

Reactions to Vaccines Mostly Headaches, Fatigue and Dizziness

Americans reported nearly 7,000 reactions such as headaches and dizziness during the first month of COVID-19 vaccinations, according to a new analysis of safety monitoring data. The symptoms most frequently reported to the vaccine safety monitoring system were headaches at 22%, fatigue at nearly 17% and dizziness at almost 17%.

Pfizer Vaccine No Longer Requires Ultra-Freezing Storage

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine no longer needs to be kept at ultra-freezing temperatures and can be safely stored inside normal medical freezers — making distribution easier, the firm said in a report Friday. Further research discovered that the doses can remain at between 5 and -13 degrees Fahrenheit without spoiling — instead of -94 degrees like previously thought. The new vaccine “stability data” revealed by the companies have now been submitted to U.S. Food and Drug Administration

The Ten Richest Countries Have Administered 75% of Covid-19 Vaccines

Just ten countries (the richest ones) have administered 75% of the world’s available Covid-19 vaccine supply, while more than 130 countries haven’t even received their first doses, according to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. To address that inequity, the secretary-general proposed that members of G20 create an emergency task force to promote global vaccine access. Guterres’ suggestion comes the same week that Mexico indicated it would file a complaint at the UN Security Council over the “unfair” vaccine rollout, which Foreign Minister Marcel Ebrard said favors richer countries.

Biden Pledges $4 Billion to Get Vaccines to Low Income Countries

The Covax Facility, the international program to deliver vaccines to low- and middle-income countries, is getting a major boost. President Biden plans to pledge $4 billion to Covax. That’s a reversal from former president Donald Trump, who rejected U.S. participation in the plan.

India’s Government Rejects Pfizer Vaccine Over Safety Concerns

India’s government recently rejected Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, citing serious safety concerns. India’s Health Department demanded a double-blind study on the shot’s effectiveness and safety. India’s health committee “noted that incidents of palsy, anaphylaxis and other SAE’s [Serious Adverse Events] have been reported … Further, the firm [Pfizer] has not proposed any plan to generate safety and immunogenicity data in the Indian population.”

Jakarta Enforces Vaccination with Fines and Withholding Aid

Indonesia’s capital Jakarta is threatening residents with fines of up to 5 million rupiah – about $360 – for anyone refusing to be vaccinated against Covif-19, an unusually stiff penalty aimed at guaranteeing compliance with new regulations calling for compulsory vaccinations. In addition to the fines, the government is threatening to withhold social aid for noncompliance.

Big Tech Censorship of Christians & Conservatives Escalates Across Internet/Cable

Here are just a sample of recent Big Tech censorship against Christians and Conservatives, showing that freedom of speech is being dismantled despite First Amendment protection in the U.S. Constitution.

  • YouTube took down a newly recorded interview with former President Donald Trump because they say it violated YouTube’s community guidelines. Specifically, Google said it contained “content that misleads people by alleging that widespread fraud or errors changed the outcome of the 2020 U.S. Presidential election.” During the Newsmax interview, Trump alleged he won the 2020 election, among other claims.
  • House Democrats are pressuring cable TV providers and online streaming companies to purge conservative media outlets from their platforms or at the very least do more to censor content they deem fake and misleading. They are targeting Fox News Channel, One America News Network and Newsmax by casting them as purveyors of lies and conspiracy theories. Constitutional scholars say these Democrats are treading on dangerous authoritarian ground. In a letter to the CEOs of AT&T, Hulu, Alphabet Inc., Altice USA, Cox Communications, Dish Network, Charter Communications, Comcast, Apple, Amazon, Roku, Democrat Congressional Representatives Jerry McNerny and Anna Eshoo are essentially demanding contracts with right leaning outlets be terminated and therefore, deplatformed. 
  • Google’s YouTube last week removed a video that showed an attorney testifying to the Ohio legislature, after the service deemed that it contained misinformation about COVID-19. Thomas Renz, an attorney with the citizens’ group Ohio Stands Up! testified that he opposed the harsh emergency orders imposed by health officials amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Renz noted that officials initially thought the fatality rate from the virus would be much higher than the flu, but it turned out to be close to the influenza fatality rate.
  • Ryan Anderson, the president of the Ethics & Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., did not realize that Amazon, the world’s largest retailer, had removed his book critiquing the transgender movement from their site until people trying to purchase it informed him that it was gone. Amazon’s webpages for copies of When Harry Became Sally have been removed while Kindle and Audible versions of the book have become inaccessible for purchase.
  • The president and CEO of D. James Kennedy Ministries says the Lifetime channel rejected programming on abortion and other controversial subjects in recent weeks, leading the ministry to pull all its shows off the channel rather than produce “milquetoast” content. The ministry is now searching for a new cable television platform that will give it the national exposure it needs to reach a broad audience.

At Least 35 Capitol Police Officers Investigated for Complicity in Riot

At least 35 Capitol police officers are being investigated and six were suspended following the U.S. Capitol breach on Jan. 6, officials said on last Thursday. Officials did not elaborate on the nature of the investigation, although videos show police officers standing motionless as groups made their way into the Capitol building on Jan. 6, sparking concerns over police complicity.

Rochester Grand Jury Declines to Indict Police Officers Over Daniel Prude’s Death, Protests Follow

Police officers who put a hood over the head of a mentally distraught Black man, then pressed his body against the pavement until he stopped breathing will not face criminal charges after a grand jury declined to indict them. Daniel Prude, 41, died last March, several days after his encounter with police in Rochester. Police initially described his death as a drug overdose. It went mostly unnoticed. But nightly protests erupted after body camera video was released nearly six months later following pressure from Prude’s family. Attorney General Letitia James, whose office took over the investigation, said her office had “presented the strongest case possible” to the grand jury, but couldn’t persuade it that the officers had committed a crime. Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of Rochester, N.Y. on Tuesday night to protest the news that the grand jury had decided not to indict the seven officers.

Biden’s 100-Day Deportation Moratorium Indefinitely Banned by Judge

The Biden administration’s efforts to impose a 100-day pause on deportations of illegal immigrants was halted on Tuesday when a district judge extended a ban on its imposition indefinitely in response to a lawsuit from Texas. U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton had previously issued a two-week restraining order on the policy after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton had argued that it violated federal law and an agreement with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that Texas be consulted before such a move. The agreement means that DHS must give Texas 180 days’ notice of any proposed change on any matter that would reduce enforcement or increase the number of “removable or inadmissible aliens” in the U.S.

Democratic Mayor Pleads With Biden Not to Release Illegals in Texas

The Democratic mayor of a small Texas border city is pleading with President Biden to stop releasing illegal immigrants into his city. Bruno Lozano, the mayor of Del Rio, posted a plea on the city’s YouTube channel. video uploaded to his municipality’s YouTube page. “I am pleading and requesting with you to please put a halt to any measures regarding the release of immigrants awaiting court dates into the city of Del Rio and surrounding areas,” the mayor said. “We do not have the resources available to house and accommodate these migrants within our community.”

AOC, Omar Slam Biden for Reopening Migrant-Children Facility

Democratic Congressional Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar on Tuesday slammed President Biden for reopening a Texas facility to hold migrant teens. The facility in Carrizo Springs reopened Monday in order to hold up to 700 teenagers, ages 13 to 17, after it was shut down by the Trump administration having only been open a month in summer 2019. The Biden administration has defended reopening the facility as an emergency measure needed to comply with COVID-19 protocols. President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris previously lambasted the Trump administration‘s treatment of migrant children at the southern border. “This is not okay, never has been okay, never will be okay — no matter the administration or party,” Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez said.

Biden Unveils Plan to Give 11 Million Illegals Citizenship

Democrats unveiled legislation Thursday for President Joe Biden’s plan to create a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, saying there is no justification for denying them a permanent home in the United States. Top Democrats said the legislation, blocked for more than a decade by Republicans, is “long overdue,” noting that most of those it will address have lived in the country for many years, with homes, businesses and U.S.-born children and grandchildren. The legislation followed through on Biden’s announcement on January 20, his first day in office, to overhaul U.S. policies toward undocumented immigrants as well as people arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border seeking to enter for work or as refugees. Opponents fear that there will now be a flood of border-crossers taking jobs away from bonafide citizens.

  • Politico reported that Democrats, in border states where immigration is a key issue, fear that President Biden is walking into a political buzzsaw by moving too quickly to overhaul immigration law.

Overdose Deaths Hit Record High During Pandemic

Drug overdoses killed an estimated 83,544 people in the U.S. during a 12-month period ending in July 2020, a record that coincides with the COVID-19 pandemic, which experts say has created a huge amount of stress and hampered treatment services. That is almost a 25% increase from the year before. Meanwhile, the number of calls to the national crisis hotline run by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration rose last year by more than 700% from 2019.

Black Males Disproportionately Victims/Perpetrators of Gun Violence

Young Black men and teens made up more than a third of firearm homicide victims in the U.S. in 2019, according to a recently released study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The analysis, titled “A Public Health Crisis in the Making,” found that Black men and boys in the 15-34 age group make up just 2% of the nation’s population, but they were involved in 37% of gun homicides that year. That’s 20 times higher than white males of the same age group. Of all reported firearm homicides in 2019, more than half of victims were Black men and 63% of male victims were Black.

Supreme Court Won’t Block Turnover of Trump’s Tax Records to Prosecutors

In a significant defeat for former President Trump, the Supreme Court on Monday declined to step in to halt the turnover of his tax records to a New York prosecutor. The court’s action is the culmination of a lengthy legal battle that had already reached the high court once before. Trump’s tax records are not supposed to become public as part of prosecutor’s criminal investigation, but the high court’s action is a blow to Trump because he has for so long fought on so many fronts to keep his tax records shielded from view by anyone, especially the criminal justice system. Trump has called it “a fishing expedition” and “a continuation of the witch hunt” against him.

Conservatives Denounce “Liberal Goodies’ in Democrat’s $1.9B Stimulus Proposal

The Republican Study Committee issued a three-page memo to conservatives to outline “all the left-wing items Democrats are hoping the public won’t find about.” Among the provisions raising eyebrows among conservatives are the $1,400 stimulus checks going to mixed-status families with undocumented immigrants; allowing Planned Parenthood to receive Paycheck Protection Program funds designed to keep small businesses afloat; and nearly $600 million for additional emergency paid family leave for federal employees and U.S. Postal Service workers. The memo also calls out $1B in subsidies and loan forgiveness to ‘socially disadvantaged’ farmers and ranchers on the basis of race and ethnicity, and allowing coronavirus funding to go to colleges that have partnerships with Chinese-controlled companies.

California Sending Stimulus Checks to State Residents Including Illegal Aliens

California lawmakers on Monday approved $600 stimulus checks for state residents, including immigrants who are in the country illegally as part of the state’s new $7.6 billion COVID-19 relief package. Gov. Newsom signed it into law on Tuesday. About $470 million in stimulus checks will go to 565,000 Californians with individual tax identification numbers who did not receive federal stimulus payments and whose income is less than $75,000, many of whom are here illegally, The Los Angeles Times reported. The package allocates about $2.3 billion for $1,200 stimulus payments to state residents with individual tax ID numbers who qualify for the California Earned Income Tax Credit — mostly people who earn less than $30,000.

Los Angeles County Mandates ‘Hero Pay’ for Grocery Workers

A mandate kicking off this week will put more money in the pockets of grocery workers in Los Angeles County for braving the pandemic to clock in. Starting Friday, national grocery and retail drug stores in unincorporated areas of the county have to start forking over $5 more an hour to their front-line workers as “hero pay,” a hazard bonus that will be mandated for the next four months. The Los Angeles Times notes the move would affect about 2,500 hourly workers. But while worker unions are smiling, grocery store associations and others aren’t, saying that that there could be “unintended consequences,” such as stores slashing workers’ hours, laying them off, or raising prices for customers

CEO’s Optimism Contrasts with Economic Misery for those Unemployed

America’s CEOs are the most confident they have been in 17 years, as company leaders expect fewer layoffs and further improvements in the business environment, according to a recent survey from the Conference Board, a non-profit think tank. But this sentiment doesn’t align with the experience of millions of Americans who are still unemployed and need government aid to make ends meet as a result of the pandemic. The disconnect is yet more proof of the k-shaped recovery, in which some Americans are experiencing major improvements while others are still suffering. For example, a recent consumer sentiment survey from the University of Michigan showed that households making less than $75,000 per year felt especially pessimistic about their financial futures as of February.

Economic News

The number of Americans applying for unemployment aid rose last week by 13,000 to 861,000, evidence that layoffs remain painfully high despite a steady drop in the number of confirmed viral infections. Nearly 10 million jobs remain lost to the pandemic. Though the unemployment rate fell last month from 6.7%, to 6.3%, it did so in part because some people stopped looking for jobs.

Gasoline prices are expected to rise 10 to 20 cents a gallon in the coming days after winter storms knocked out about a dozen refineries in Texas, capping a sharp run-up in prices since Halloween and possibly heralding a move toward $3 by summer as the pandemic eases.

Kroger is closing two more stores, this time in Seattle, rather than providing workers with hazard pay. A law that went into effect this month in the city requires grocery stores of a certain size to pay workers an extra $4 per hour amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “Unfortunately, Seattle City Council didn’t consider that grocery stores—even in a pandemic—operate on razor-thin profit margins in a very competitive landscape,” the statement says. Hazard pay would make it “impossible to operate a financially sustainable business.”

Walmart announced pay bumps Thursday that will bring its average hourly wage to over $15 an hour. But the move still falls short of the $15 minimum wage announced by some of its largest competitors. Walmart, America’s largest private employer, said it will raise wages for 425,000 US workers — more than a fourth of its workforce — to at least $13 an hour, starting March 13.

Airlines in the United States, South Korea and Japan have grounded dozens of Boeing 777 aircraft after one of the jets suffered engine failure Saturday, sending debris crashing down over Denver through the roofs of homes and into yards. No injuries were reported. Boeing recommended that airlines stop flying versions of the aircraft that are equipped with Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 engines while U.S. authorities investigate the Denver incident. The plane manufacturer said that 69 of the 777 jets that are in service are powered by the engine.

Iran Plans More Advanced Machines At Underground Enrichment Plant

Iran has informed the U.N. nuclear watchdog it plans to install more of its advanced IR-2m centrifuges at an underground uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, a report by the agency on Wednesday said, which would deepen a breach of Iran’s nuclear deal. “Iran indicated it plans to install two additional cascades of 174 IR-2m centrifuges at FEP to enrich … up to 5% U-235. This will bring the total number of cascades of IR-2m centrifuges either planned, being installed, or operating in FEP to six,” the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a report to member states obtained by Reuters.

Biden Offers To Restart Nuclear Talks with Iran, But Iran Says Lift Sanctions First

The United States took a major step on Thursday toward restoring the Iran nuclear deal that the Trump administration abandoned, offering to join European nations in what would be the first substantial diplomacy with Tehran in more than four years, Biden administration officials said. In a series of moves intended to make good on one of President Biden’s most significant campaign promises, the administration also backed away from a Trump administration effort to restore United Nations sanctions on Iran. That effort had divided Washington from its European allies. Iran’s top diplomat insisted Sunday the United States must first lift economic sanctions imposed on it by the Trump administration before the nuclear pact can be revived.

Iran Officially Imposes Curbs On UN Nuclear Inspections

Iran officially started restricting international inspections of its nuclear facilities Tuesday, a bid to pressure European countries and President Joe Biden’s administration to lift crippling economic sanctions and restore the 2015 nuclear deal. World powers slammed the restrictions as a “dangerous” move. It came as the International Atomic Energy Agency reported in a confidential document distributed to member countries and seen by The Associated Press that Iran had added 17.6 kilograms (38.8 pounds) of uranium enriched up to 20% to its stockpile as of Feb. 16.

Burma Protest Against Military Coup Leaves at Least 2 dead, Dozens Injured

At least two people were killed and dozens more injured in Burma on Saturday during protests against a Feb. 1 military coup that led to the detainment of Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s de facto leader. The violence broke out in Mandalay, Burma’s second-largest city. According to protesters, people began to gather at 8 a.m. at a local shipyard in Mandalay, hoping to block military police from entering the city. Things turned violent around 2 p.m. when local squatters living by the side of the road began throwing stones at police forces who were using water cannons to control the crowds. When the police started firing bullets into the air, chaos broke out. Then the police used live ammunition, rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons against the protesters.

4 Aid Workers Are Shot Dead In Pakistan

Gunmen killed four aid workers in an ambush in the northwestern Pakistani district of North Waziristan on Monday, police officials said, an attack that could signal a revival of insurgency in the region bordering Afghanistan that was once a stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban. A vehicle carrying the aid workers, who were all Pakistanis and who were affiliated with a program for developing household skills for women, was fired upon by unidentified attackers in the town of Mir Ali, the police said. The four aid workers, all women, were killed and the male driver was wounded. A fifth aid worker, also a woman, survived the attack by taking refuge in a nearby house.

Seven Election Officials Killed In Landmine Blast As Niger Votes

Seven members of Niger’s electoral commission (CENI) have been killed during the country’s presidential election runoff when their vehicle hit a mine and exploded in the troubled western region of Tillaberi. The country regularly suffers attacks by armed groups and had increased to protect Sunday’s poll, in which the governing party candidate, Mohamed Bazoum, is facing former President Mahamane Ousmane. A vehicle belonging to CENI and carrying election workers to their polling stations hit a mine in the rural commune of Dargol in the southwest, said Harouna Mounkaila, vice president of the commission’s local branch. “They were leaving to drop off the ballot boxes and the members of the polling station,” Moukaila told Reuters news agency, adding that three other workers were seriously wounded.

Another Wave of Locusts Threatens Africa with Food Scarcity

The plague of locusts in the Horn of Africa is on the rise again, as a new generation of pests is breeding and hatching. In countries like Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya, the next harvest is under threat. This means that families that have been impoverished and weakened by years of crises are sinking even further into a downward spiral of hunger and poverty. More than 15 districts have already been severely affected by the second wave of locusts. Around 1.9 million people were already living in a precarious nutrition situation, which could now dramatically worsen. Billions of locust swarms destroyed thousands of acres of crops last year in Africa.

Environment

Nearly a third of all freshwater fish species are threatened by extinction, according to a new report released by 16 conservation groups on Tuesday. “The World’s Forgotten Fishes” says that 80 freshwater species — which make up more than half of all the world’s species — have already been declared extinct, with 16 disappearing in 2020 alone. Migratory populations have declined by more than three-quarters since the 1970s, while populations of larger species, weighing more than 60 pounds, have fallen by an even more “catastrophic” 94 percent, it said. Of more than 10,000 species whose conservation status has been assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, 30 percent are considered at risk of extinction.

  • “A third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the water, because it was made bitter.” (Revelation 8:11)

Earthquakes

An earthquake rattled parts of Oklahoma and Kansas Friday morning. The U.S. Geological Survey gave the quake a preliminary rating of 4.2 magnitude. It struck at 7:56 a.m. CST and was centered about 3.5 miles southwest of Manchester, Oklahoma, near the Kansas state line, and at a depth of about 4 miles. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Volcanoes

Mt. Etna erupted just before midnight on Monday night, provoking a huge eruption plume that rose for several kilometers from the top of Etna in Sicily. This is the fifth episode in a series of Mt. Etna eruptions which have been occurring over the past week. Europe’s most active volcano scattered ashes around a vastly populated area on its slopes.

Weather

While state officials work to turn the lights back on for the remaining Texas households still in the dark and address widespread water disruptions, some residents are faced with damage that could take weeks — or months — to recover from. As of early Monday morning, more than 15,700 people were without power across the state, down from about 4 million after the initial deep freeze. Meanwhile some 8.8 million people — nearly a third of the state’s total population — were still experiencing water disruptions Sunday evening. For residents dealing with lasting damage, Governor Abbott said the state was bringing in more plumbers to meet the high demand of customers with broken pipes. “If you do not have insurance, you may qualify for a FEMA reimbursement,” he said.

At the same time millions of people in Texas were shivering in their homes without power, the cost of electricity was skyrocketing. That meant some people who still had power were left with bills totaling thousands of dollars. The rising costs came in response to increased demand for gas and electricity as a parade of winter storms brought frigid cold, snow and ice to large swaths of the U.S., utility providers say. These are customers of a company that sells wholesale power for a monthly membership. Their rate is based on wholesale costs and is more susceptible to swings in the market. The wholesale price of electricity on the Texas power grid jumped to more than $9,000 per megawatt hour on Monday, according to Reuters, up from less than $50 before extreme winter weather set in. Texas’ utility regulator, Public Utility Commission of Texas, said Saturday that it is investigating this unprecedented rise in charges.

God is Still in Control, Don’t Resist, Evangelize

February 17, 2021

Focus on the Harvest, Not Politics

The end-times are unfolding just as Scripture tells us it will. Divisiveness will continue to grow: Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another, (Revelation 6:4).

Pestilence (infectious viruses, virulent bacteria, microscopic germs) will increase in many different forms: And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth. (Rev 6:8).

  • Murder rates in the U.S. saw an “historic” increase in 2020 compared to 2019, with more than 1,200 additional killings year-over-year in a sample of 34 American cities, according to a study released 2/8/21. Homicide rates jumped by 30% from 2019 to 2020
  • We have experienced more protests, often accompanied by vandalism and violence, than any time since perhaps the anti-Vietnam War. The Capitol riot will not be the end of protest fever, as anarchists, extremists, leftists, rightists, white supremacists and others will continue to be more and more stirred up by demonic forces.
  • Famines are increasing at historic levels with 270 million at risk of “catastrophic hunger” according to a recent UN report in parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

What’s next? Economic devastation and food scarcity: And I looked, and behold, a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures, saying, “A quartof wheat for a denarius and three quarts of barley for a denarius.” Rev. 6:5-6).

  • The economic stimulus in the U.S. and other countries has been constructed on a mountain of debt, which will continue to rise in early 2021. Federal debt is already greater than America’s total output of goods and services (GDP – gross domestic product).
  • 17.8 million are still unemployed in the U.S. with many restaurant and travel companies on the edge of collapse. Airlines will soon shed thousands of jobs.
  • 14 million renters are behind on their payments and face further hardship when the moratorium on evictions is eventually lifted. Meanwhile, landlords are being squeezed into bankruptcy with lack of income.
  • These issues will make investors nervous, and the overpriced stock market will crash, destroying wealth and pension funds.
  • Weather will continue to grow more extreme, destroying crops with heat, cold, floods and drought (Daniel 9:26b, Ezekiel 38:22, Luke 21:25, Revelation 8:7, 11:19, 16:8,11)

But surely America will recover and we will see a great awakening, right? Wrong. The only Scripture that I believe pertains to America indicates that it’s reign as a superpower is coming to an end. This is in Daniel’s prophecy about the four coming kingdoms:

  • And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other. The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings. I watched till its wings were plucked off; and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear. It was raised up on one side, and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said thus to it: ‘Arise, devour much flesh! After this I looked, and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird. The beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words. (7:3-4)

As with many Old Testament prophecies, there is often a near-term and long-term fulfillment. In the near-term fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy, most scholars relate these four beasts to the kingdoms of Babylon (in which Nebuchadnezzar was humbled by God), then the Medo-Persian alliance which conquered Babylon, then Greece through Alexander the Great who overtook nations quickly like a leopard and then the Roman Empire which encompassed ten kingdoms with the little horn representing Antiochus Epiphanes, a man renowned for his ingenuity and cruelty who defiled the Temple in 156 BC.

  • In the long-term fulfillment, the first beast is the USA (usually symbolized by an eagle) which came out of England (represented by a lion, the traditional symbol for England). With its eagle’s wings plucked off, the lion/eagle loses its power to soar as a super-power and instead become ordinary like a man standing on the ground.
  • After which the second beast, Russia (the bear is the traditional symbol for Russia) will become dominant. Russia has already begun to flex its military muscle in the Ukraine, with more targeted areas (ribs) to follow. It’s alliance with Iran will be the source of conflict stirred up in the Middle East.
  • The third beast, the leopard, is unknown at this point in time. No current nation is symbolized as a leopard. However, it will have four heads indicating that it might be a consortium of four nations. China is the most likely candidate because its economy has risen fast (like a leopard) to become second only to the U.S.economically, but continues to grow at a much higher rate. China and 14 other Asia-Pacific nations recently signed one of the world’s biggest trade pacts, leaving the U.S. on the sidelines. If China allies itself with (or takes over) nuclear powers India and Pakistan and conquers Russia, this could form the four heads.. With wings of a bird, this third beast will soar to take the place of the fallen eagle (USA).

Regardless of who the third beast actually winds up to be, the fourth beast will come from an alliance of ten nations who overcome the third beast and usher in the anti-Christ, the little horn with eyes of a man and a mouth speaking pompous words, which quite accurately describes the anti-Christ of Revelation 13:1-8:

  • Then I [the Apostle John] stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast. So they worshiped the dragon [Satan] who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?” And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation.
  • We see here once again the lion, bear and leopard, tying John’s prophetic vision to Daniel’s earlier prophecy. This fourth and final beast will be a reconstitution of Daniel’s fourth beast in its near-term fulfillment, the Roman Empire. This time it will be ten nations who come together to put down the leopard (China+), mostly likely comprised of England, America, Europe and some Euro-Asian nations. Out of this will arise the leader of the one-world government, the anti-Christ who will overcome the entire world, even the saints who will suffer extreme persecution as secular humanism reigns supreme.

What can we do to stop all this? Nothing. It’s God’s will and God’s plan for the end-times as He decreed in Scripture.

  • God has already begun to remove His restraining hand that has kept a balance between good and evil: 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).
  • And no, this is not the church being taken out of the world (the church is always referred to as she, the bride of Christ) nor is it the rapture of the saints.

This is done to allow sin to reach its fullness and to usher in the anti-Christ:

  • 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. (Daniel 8:23).

Instead of laboring against God’s plan (always a futile exercise), we need to focus on the harvest through evangelism: Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matthew 37-38).

  • This is the Great Commission that Jesus call us to: Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18)

Nowhere in Scripture do we see a great awakening or worldwide/nationwide revival. As I prophesied in 2007 (click here), there will only be pockets of revival within the deep darkness of the end-times, as described in Isaiah 60:1-3:

  • Arise, shine, for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles [i.e. unbelievers] shall come to your light, and kings [i.e. leaders] to the brightness of your rising.

We are called to focus on evangelism not to spend our time and energy on politics nor trying to thwart God’s end-time plan.

  • Become the light in your family, neighborhood, workplace and everywhere you go. Focus on manifesting the light and people will come to you, especially as times get more difficult. Only go where God sends you. You don’t have to manufacture evangelistic opportunities – He will bring them to you if you are prayed up and prepared.
  • People will sense God’s light on you and within you. You can’t achieve this by striving, only by becoming more and more Christlike which requires your entire attention on Him, not on the things of the world.
  • Wherever you go, walk in the light: For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. (Ephesians 5:8).
  • And not only wear your Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) but also put on the armor of light: The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. (Romans 13:12)

The good news in all of this is that the sooner the end-times are over, the sooner Jesus Christ returns to rule and reign on a new/restored earth for a thousand years.

  • Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:1-5)
  • And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4-6)

Signs of the Times (2/17/21)

February 17, 2021

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)

Trump Acquitted Again As Expected

Partisan politics was on display yet again as former President Trump was impeached a second time with the same predictable result. Democrats railed and wailed during the trial and Republicans voted in the trial to acquit by a vote of 57 guilty, 43 innocent, falling short of the 2/3 needed to convict. Seven Republicans all Democrats voted to convict. The remain legal issue is whether a former President can be impeached when already out of office. Impeachment was meant to be a process of unseating an unfit president, so it seems ludicrous to go after a former President.

Biden Administration Sitting on $1.1 Trillion in Unspent COVID Aid

About $1.1 trillion in coronavirus aid, including more than $120 billion for small businesses, has still not been spent, according to a memo Republicans are circulating on Capitol Hill. The $1.1 trillion in unspent coronavirus relief funds represents a significant portion of the $4 trillion allocated by Congress as part of multiple 2020 stimulus packages. About $21.2 billion provided for vaccine development, $151 billion for unemployment insurance, $37 billion for health care providers and $53 billion allocated for stimulus payments remains unspent.

Biden Press Secretary Doesn’t Seem to Know if Israel is an Ally

“Can you please just give us a broad sense of what the administration is trying to achieve in the Middle East?” asked a reporter at last Friday’s press briefing. “For example, does the administration still consider the Saudis and the Israelis important allies?” Press Secretary Jen Psaki failed to answer the question, saying, “Well, you know, again, I think we — there are ongoing processes and internal interagency processes — one that we, I think, confirmed an interagency meeting just last week — to discuss a range of issues in the Middle East.” She said, “We’ve only been here three and a half weeks, and I think I’m going to let those policy processes see themselves through before we give, kind of, a complete laydown of what our national security approaches will be to a range of issues.”

Aide Admits NY Governor Cuomo Concealed COVID-19 Nursing Home Deaths

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D-NY) top aide privately apologized to Democratic lawmakers for withholding the numbers of COVID-related deaths in the state’s nursing homes in order to avoid a legal investigation and negative political attention. Melissa DeRosa explained the Cuomo administration feared that President Trump would direct “the Department of Justice to do an investigation into us.” Her statements indicate Cuomo and his aides intentionally concealed the data fearing it may be used as evidence by the Department of Justice.

Excess Deaths Nearly 600,000 More Than Normal During Pandemic

The true death toll from the coronavirus pandemic in the United States is massively higher than the mere data from those who died COVID-19 positive, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Data shows excess deaths in the past year to be approaching 600,000, which takes the number of people who die from any cause in a given region and period and then compares it with a baseline from recent years. More than 569,397 more people than expected have died since the start of the pandemic, according to the CDC. “These deaths could represent misclassified COVID-19 deaths, or potentially could be indirectly related to the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., deaths from other causes occurring in the context of health care shortages or overburdened health care systems),” the CDC website reads.

6 of 8 Leading COVID-19 Vaccines Were Not Produced Using Abortion Cells

Six of eight COVID-19 vaccine candidates did not use cell lines from abortions in their development or production, according to an analysis by the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute, the research arm of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List. The eight vaccines included those that have already been approved for emergency use, as well as those that have not. The six vaccines that did not use cell lines from abortions were from Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Novavax, Sanofi/GSK, Inovio and Merck. The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines already are being given to Americans. However, vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson did use stem cells from abortions in their development and production, the institute says. David Prentice, vice president and research director at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, said confusion has arisen in the pro-life community because Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna conducted “confirmatory tests” using fetal cell lines on the “finished product” – that is, after the vaccine was developed and produced. But the vaccine itself is not derived from aborted fetal tissue.

12% of U.S. Population Has Been Vaccinated at Least Once

Nearly 1.7 million Covid-19 vaccine doses are being administered on an average day, and about 40 million people have received at least one dose as of 2/15, representing 12% of the total U.S. population and 37% of the prioritized population. President Biden announced that the United States will have enough coronavirus vaccines for 300 million Americans by the end of July. Moderna and Pfizer will deliver a total of 200 million coronavirus vaccine doses by the end of July, rather than the end of the summer, he said. The companies will also deliver 100 million expected doses by the end of May, rather than the end of June.

  • Fully vaccinated people who meet certain criteria will no longer be required to quarantine following an exposure to someone with COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

One-Third of U.S. Residents Wary of Vaccine, Especially Blacks

Though officials and health experts say the end of the Covid-19 pandemic will rely on a large proportion of Americans being inoculated, nearly a third of US adults say they have not decided if they will get the vaccine when it is offered to them. About 31% of US adults say they plan to “wait and see” how it works out for other people, according to a report released by the Kaiser Family Foundation last Friday. To reach herd immunity, about 70-85% of Americans would need to be vaccinated, National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease director Dr. Anthony Fauci has estimated.

  • The Black community is especially wary of the vaccination because of decades of abuse from the medical establishment. Since the country’s inception, the American medical institution has subjected Black bodies to abuse, exploitation and experimentation. Corpses being pulled from the ground for scientific study. Black women being sterilized without their knowledge and robbed of the opportunity to bear children. An entire Black community misled into believing they were immune from a fatal illness. Time and time again, Black people have been betrayed by the medical establishment, fostering a lingering, deep-rooted mistrust.

Covid-19 Vaccines to Roll Out at Pharmacies

After weeks of vaccine distribution being largely limited to hospitals, health systems and local health departments, COVID-19 vaccines are poised to roll out at major pharmacies throughout the country, including the nation’s two largest chains, CVS and Walgreens. While state-determined eligibility and availability will remain limited for the time being, experts say they’re hopeful that the nation’s established network of pharmacies will help speed up distribution amid consternation over the pace of the rollout so far. Rite Aid pharmacies will begin on Friday administering Covid-19 vaccines in seven states and jurisdictions as part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, the drug store chain said.

Israeli Researchers Find Previously Infected People Need Only One Vaccine Dose

Researchers from Bar-Ilan University and Ziv Medical Center now report preliminary evidence that the immune system of people previously infected with the virus responded very strongly to one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, regardless of when they were infected and whether or not they had detectable antibodies against COVID-19 prior to receiving the vaccine. The response among those previously infected was so effective that it opens the debate as to whether one dose of the vaccine may suffice. 

  • Israel’s largest healthcare provider on Sunday reported a 94% drop in symptomatic COVID-19 infections among 600,000 people who received two doses of the Pfizer’s vaccine in the country’s biggest study to date.

Canada’s Vaccine Rollout Has Stalled

Canada’s vaccine rollout has stalled, confining seniors to their homes for months to come. Canada seemed to get off to an early start on buying vaccines last April, but the government now says it could not convince any companies to produce them on Canadian soil. Ultimately, the manufacturers did not prioritize Canada for doses this winter and that has sealed the fate of millions of Canadians still waiting to get a vaccine.

Study Says 40% of Covid-19 Deaths Could Have Been Prevented, U.S. Lags Other Nations

About 40% of the nation’s coronavirus deaths could have been prevented if the United States’ average death rate matched other industrialized nations, a new Lancet Commission report has found. The report found U.S. life expectancy began trailing other industrialized nations four decades ago. In 2018, two years before the pandemic, the report said 461,000 fewer Americans would have died if U.S. mortality rates matched other Group of Seven nations: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom. COVID-19 has disproportionately affected people of color. The disparities were especially high among middle-aged adults, possibly a sign of crowded living conditions and jobs that did not allow people to safely distance, the report said. Public health measures such as mask wearing and physical distancing could have saved lives, the report said, but then-President Trump failed to create a national response, instead leaving crucial decisions to states.

Coronavirus Cases/Deaths/Hospitalizations Continue to Decline

Average daily new coronavirus cases in the United States dipped below 100,000 in recent days for the first time in months. Over the past week, there has been an average of 85,812 cases per day, a decrease of 41 percent from the average two weeks earlier, way down from about 250,000 at the January peak. The seven-day average deaths per day decreased to 2,475 on 2/15, down from the peak of 3,347 on 1/13, a decline of 26%. The seven-day average number of hospitalizations decreased to 71,949 on 2/14 from the peak of 131,127 on 1/12, a 45% decline.

Coronavirus Variants Surging in U.S., Could Become Dominant Strain

The number of known coronavirus variant cases is surging. The vast majority are of the B.1.1.7 variant, which was first detected in the U.K. and has run rampant there. The CDC has said it may become the dominant strain in the U.S. by March. U.K. government scientific advisers said Friday that the variant may be up to 70% more deadly than previous variants. Seven new coronavirus variants have popped up in the U.S. since last summer, according to a new study — and scientists worry they may be more contagious. The variants are alike in that each mutates the coronavirus’ 677th amino acid, found on the “spike” that the virus uses to attach itself to healthy cells — raising fears that the changes could make them more infectious. The mutations have been found by scientists across the country conducting genetic sequencing on positive COVID-19 tests.

  • The Michigan health department has identified 90 cases of the more contagious B.1.1.7 variant of COVID-19 at a prison in West Michigan.

Several States Have Rolled Back Covid-19 Restrictions

Several states and cities rolled back COVID-19 restrictions this  past week. In Montana, Gov. Greg Gianforte lifted the state’s mask mandate Friday. In Nevada, Gov. Steve Sisolak on Thursday announced he would gradually end a months-long “pause” on economic activity meant to slow the virus’ deadly resurgence over the holiday. And in Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine promised to scrap a curfew that has been in place since November. Meanwhile, limited indoor dining began in New York City Friday, and Chicago expanded its indoor dining capacity limits.

First Reinfection from South African Variant in France

A critically ill man in France is the first person known to have a second infection resulting from the variant first detected in South Africa. . The news comes as reports of the variant, called B. 1.351, have escalated globally, including 13 cases in five states. Studies of the vaccines produced by drugmakers Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca-Oxford and Novavax appeared to show that the vaccines work against the B. 1.351 variant but have a lowered effectiveness.

Biden Administration Questions WHO/China Report About Coronoavirus Origins

The White House on Saturday called on China to make available data from the earliest days of the COVID-19 outbreak, saying it has “deep concerns” about the way the findings of the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 report were communicated. White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement that it is imperative that the report be independent and free from “alteration by the Chinese government,” echoing concerns raised by the administration of former President Donald Trump, who also moved to quit the WHO over the issue. A WHO-led mission, which spent four weeks in China probing the origins of the COVID-19 outbreak, said this week that it was not looking further into the question of whether the virus escaped from a lab, which it considered highly unlikely.

  • The U.S. will pay more than $200 million to the World Health Organization by the end of the month after reversing Donald Trump’s plan to withdraw. The U.S. is the largest donor to WHO.

Melbourne Locks Down for Third Time, But Not the Tennis Tournament

Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, will begin its third lockdown on Friday due to a rapidly spreading COVID-19 cluster. The five-day lockdown will be enforced across Victoria state to prevent the virus spreading from the state capital. The Australian Open tennis tournament will be allowed to continue but without spectators, he said. Only international flights that were already in the air when the lockdown was announced will be allowed to land at Melbourne Airport. Schools and many businesses will be closed. Residents are ordered to stay at home except to exercise and for essential purposes.

New Zealand Locks Down for First Time Since August

New Zealand has instituted a lockdown for the first time since August after three members of an Auckland family tested positive for the coronavirus. It’s not clear how the parents and their teenage daughter contracted COVID-19, but the mother works for a company that provides laundry services for international flights. Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, will go on lockdown for three days. During that time, businesses will close, travel will be restricted, residents will be asked to stay home while mass testing and contact tracing is carried out to determine whether the outbreak extends beyond the one family.

Schools Can Reopen Safely Says CDC, Child Suicides Mounting

Schools can re-open safely, the Centers for Disease Control Prevention announced on Friday. The agency listed a set of necessary precautions, including mandatory masks for students and staff. The CDC stopped short of declaring vaccination for teachers as a requirement. Instead, it said states should give educators priority. Other mitigation recommendations are correct use of face masks, handwashing and respiratory etiquette, cleaning and maintaining facilities as well as contract tracing. 

  • The number of suicidal children in San Francisco has hit a record high and health experts say it is clear that keeping public schools closed “is catalyzing a mental health crisis among school-aged children,” according to a lawsuit the city filed Thursday to push its school district to reopen classrooms.

Lockdown Challenges Mostly Losing in U.S. Courts

About 300 civil liberties lawsuits have been filed during the pandemic against emergency lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic. These lawsuits represent the most significant test in more than a century of the emergency powers of state governors and the scope of liberty in dire times. A review of rulings on emergency measures shows that federal and state courts have been reluctant to second-guess governors, upholding widespread restrictions on travel, gatherings and commerce. On the federal bench, judges appointed by Republican presidents were less deferential, but overall, the courts have given more weight to the government’s interest in controlling disease than to the rights of individuals and business owners.

Two Capitol Hill Officers Commit Suicide after Riot

Two officers who helped fight off the Capitol rioters have died by suicide. Many more are hurting. The suicides have renewed attention on a troubling and often hidden issue: Police officers die by their own hands at rates greater than people in other occupations, according to a report compiled by the Police Executive Research Forum. That report says officer suicides outpace deaths of law enforcement members killed in shootings and vehicular crashes.

Businesses Leaving Seattle in Droves Due to Homelessness, Violence & Protests

A rash of business closures have hit Seattle, threatening the city’s COVID recovery. In downtown Seattle alone, over 160 businesses have permanently closed their doors according to a new report. It’s created an office vacancy rate of 12% – a five-year high. While area activists blame COVID, the employers leaving are clear about their motivations. Seattleites are being chased by aggressive, mentally ill homeless people. Professionals are dodging human waste on sidewalks as they walk to business meetings. Antifa riots are still destroying storefronts, deadly overdoses are surging, and police are leaving the hamstrung department in historic numbers. 

Biden Rescinds Emergency Declaration Used to Build Border Wall

President Joe Biden announced Thursday that he had informed Congress he was rescinding the national emergency declaration on the U.S.-Mexico border that was put in place by former President Donald Trump in February 2019 to redirect billions of dollars  for construction of a wall along the southern border. Under the emergency declaration signed in February 2019, Trump was able to divert $600 million from the Treasury Department and $6.1 billion from the Defense Department to the Department of Homeland Security for border wall construction.

1.2 Million Illegal Immigrants Ordered to be Deported are Still Here

ICE is currently monitoring nearly 1.2 million illegal immigrants who’ve been ordered deported but have not yet left the U.S. Nearly all of them are still free in the community, the agency told a federal court this week, revealing the monumental task of policing them all. Fewer than 6,000 people with deportation orders, known in the business as final orders of removal, are in the agency’s custody.

‘Remain in Mexico’ Migrants to be Admitted into U.S.

Homeland Security will allow tens of thousands of migrants blocked by the Trump administration from jumping the border to enter the U.S. starting next week, erasing the brunt of a policy that had helped solve the last border surge. The migrants are part of the Migration Protection Protocols, more commonly referred to as the “remain in Mexico” policy, which allowed border authorities who encountered illegal entrants to process and return them to Mexico to await their immigration court dates. Some 25,000 people with active cases who are believed to be currently in Mexico will be admitted and granted that foothold in the U.S. while they await their cases. The program will begin admissions on Feb. 19.

Mississippi Senate Votes to Ban Transgenders from Women’s Sports

The Mississippi Senate voted Thursday to ban transgender athletes from competing on women’s sports teams in the state’s high schools and universities. The sponsor of the bill, Republican Senator Angela Hill, told her colleagues prior to the vote that she’d “had numerous coaches across the state call me and believe that they feel that there is a need for a policy.” Senate Bill 2536 passed 34-9 in the late-night session, with very little prior discussion. Now it heads to the Mississippi House of Representatives for consideration. Several states, including Montana, North Dakota and Idaho, have attempted to pass similar legislation recently. While proponents say that allowing an athlete born male to compete in women’s sports gives them an unfair advantage, those against say the proposals are discriminatory and harmful.

  • Republican lawmakers in North Dakota and Mississippi approved bills last week to outlaw males with gender dysphoria from competing on women’s sports teams. The new efforts to protect women’s and girls’ sports come three weeks after the Biden administration issued an order mandating that gender-confused men and women be included on teams for members of the opposite sex.

Big Tech Truth Squad Act as Arbiters of What’s Right & Wrong

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. isn’t just a Kennedy, he’s a well-known anti-vaxxer—and now that stance has gotten him banned from Instagram. “We removed this account for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines,” a spokesperson for the social media site’s parent company, Facebook said in a statement. Facebook also said there were no plans “at this time” to remove RFK Jr.’s Facebook page, which was still active, including a recent post questioning the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Twitter says it has permanently suspended the account of the right-wing guerilla news outlet Project Veritas and locked its founder James O’Keefe out of his account. The suspension came after Project Veritas shared a video showing Project Veritas journalist Christian Hartsock approaching Facebook executive Guy Rosen outside of his home. The journalist wanted to interview Rosen over remarks he made during an internal video conference that was previously leaked to Project Veritas. In the leaked video that Project Veritas released last week, Rosen, who is Facebook’s vice president of “integrity,” is heard saying on the Jan. 7 conference that the tech giant has a “system” of being able to “freeze commenting” on threads that are flagged as containing “hate speech or violence.” The video is still available on Project Veritas’ YouTube account. 

FBI Reports Flood of Ransomware Attacks, Healthcare Companies Under Siege

A surge of ransomware complaints flooded the FBI in 2020’s final months, including a spate of attacks on hospitals. In each of the last four months of 2020, the FBI received more than 200 complaints about ransomware, according to data compiled by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. Victims’ cash losses more than tripled in 2020 year-over-year to $29.1 million. Ransomware is malicious software that infects a computer system and threatens to publish the victim’s data or block access to it unless a ransom is paid. The malware was identified as “Ryuk,” which some news organizations have attributed to Russia. Ransomware attacks are proving more successful and growing more sophisticated. Cyberattackers who formerly just encrypted the data in a ransomware attack now also look to steal it as extra leverage to profit from their crimes.

Economic News

The Department of Health and Human Services will reopen insurance enrollment on HealthCare.gov beginning Monday through May 15, giving a new coverage opportunity to Americans who lost their jobs and employer-based insurance during the pandemic. Nearly 9 million uninsured Americans could get free or subsidized health insurance through the special enrollment period.

President Joe Biden is extending a ban on home foreclosures until June 30 for federally backed mortgages by three months and expanding a mortgage relief program in a push to stabilize the nation’s housing affordability crisis amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The enrollment window to request a mortgage payment forbearance – which allows borrowers to pause or reduce mortgage payments – was also extended until June 30.from its March end date.

U.S. federal debt expected to exceed the size of the entire U.S. economy, even before Biden stimulus plan is counted, nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Thursday. In 2021, America’s federal debt will reach about 102 percent of its gross domestic product (total output of goods and services). The United States has been on a spending spree to prop up the economy that has been pummeled by the coronavirus pandemic. Another round of economic stimulus will only further push total debt above total GDP.

A new Pew Research Center survey finds that, overall, one-in-four adults have had trouble paying their bills since the coronavirus outbreak started, a third have dipped into savings or retirement accounts to make ends meet, and about one-in-six have borrowed money from friends or family or gotten food from a food bank. Nearly half of American workers have been suffering from mental health issues since the Covid-19 pandemic began, according to a report from the Portland, Oregon-based insurance company The Standard.

According to another new survey from the Pew Research Center, 70% of those who are jobless say being out of work has left them struggling with mental health. Over five in ten said they were dealing with more mental health challenges like anxiety and depression. And 81% said they’d felt adrift, fought more with loved ones or experienced other emotional issues since losing their jobs. Whether employed or not, symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as substance abuse and thoughts of suicide, have spiked during the pandemic says the CDC.  

Existing home prices rose in all 183 metropolitan statistical areas tracked in the fourth quarter of last year, according to the National Association of Realtors. Double-digit price gains were seen in 161 metro areas, or 88% of them. The Northeast had the biggest gain at 21%, followed by the West at 16%, the Midwest at 15% and finally the South at 14%. At the same time, inventory levels reached record lows, leading to insufficient supply, which is driving up prices.

A study from the American Clean Power Association released this month reports that 2020 was a record year for the wind energy industry, with developers adding enough megawatts of capacity to provide power for millions of homes and inching the U.S. closer to the Biden administration’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2035. In all, 16,913 megawatts of new wind power capacity was installed in the U.S. last year – an 85% increase over 2019. That’s the equivalent of the power generated from 11 large coal plants, and enough to serve nearly 6 million homes

The UK economy suffered its biggest slump in more than three centuries last year, with GDP falling by nearly 10% over the course of 2020. That means the Covid-19 pandemic has effectively wiped out all growth in the United Kingdom over the last 7 years, returning the economy close to the size it was in 2013. There were some signs of improvement in the final months of 2020, with GDP estimated to have increased by 1% in the fourth quarter.

Israeli Air Force Pounds Iranian Targets Near Damascus

The Israeli Air Forces bombed targets in the vicinity of Damascus early Monday morning. According to a war monitor group operating in Syria, “six Iran-backed fighters killed” and “weapons depots were also struck.” The Israeli Defenses Forces has remained silent on the reports, as it usually does. Iran routinely attempts to arm the Lebanon-based Hezbollah with advanced weapons. Israel has exposed and thwarted multiple attempts by Iran to transfer weapons to Hezbollah, including by air shipments from Iran through Damascus Airport. Israel has significantly stepped up its strikes against Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria in recent weeks.

Iran Has Started Producing Uranium Metal, In Violation Of 2015 Accords

Iran has produced a material that is banned under the 2015 nuclear accords and could be used to form the core of a nuclear weapon, as it seeks to step up pressure on the Biden administration to lift economic sanctions on Tehran. A confidential report by the United Nations atomic agency, seen by The Wall Street Journal, said Iran had started producing uranium metal on Feb. 6 at a nuclear facility in Isfahan that is under the agency’s inspection. The material produced was a small amount of natural uranium metal, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported, meaning it wasn’t enriched.

Iran Says It Will End Snap IAEA Inspections If Nuclear Deal Terms Not Met

Iran said on Monday it will block snap inspections by the U.N. nuclear watchdog from next week if other parties to the 2015 nuclear deal do not uphold their obligations, a challenge to U.S. President Joe Biden’s hope of reviving the accord. “If others do not fulfil their obligations by Feb. 21, the government is obliged to suspend the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said. “It does not mean ending all inspections by the U.N. nuclear watchdog…All these steps are reversible if the other party changes its path and honors its obligations,” he said, alluding to the United States.

Christians Flee From Myanmar  Army After Military Coup

Thousands of Christians fled their homes as the army of Myanmar (Burma) shelled Christian villages of Karen state on Monday, February 1. It was the same day that the army seized political power in a military coup. The following weekend the Tatmadaw, as the army is called, sent troops in 20 trucks to attack another Karen village in the middle of the night. Thankfully the villagers had fled just hours before. “We are very concerned, knowing the cruelty of the Tatmadaw. Lord, have mercy on these people,” came the message to Barnabas Aid. For decades the army, representing the Buddhist and ethnic Burman majority, brutally oppressed Christians and other ethnic minorities, even during the recent years of civilian democratic rule. A ceasefire agreed upon in 2012 has been crumbling, especially since December 2020, when the army began attacking villages in Karen state with shells, mortars and grenades. There are many Christians in the Karen ethnic group.

Biden’s Withdrawal from Yemen War Seeks to Undo What Obama Started

President Joe Biden is making an early, aggressive push to end U.S. involvement in the war in Yemen. The years-long conflict has left more than 200,000 Yemenis dead and put millions more on the brink of starvation. It has marred America’s reputation, with U.S.-made weapons used in Saudi-led strikes against civilians. Many of Biden’s top national security advisers also worked in the Obama administration, and they were involved in greenlighting the Saudi-led coalition’s plan to intervene in Yemen. Rob Malley, a national security adviser to former President Barack Obama who just joined the Biden administration, recalled that, “We knew we might be getting into a car with a drunk driver (i.e. the Saudi Arabians).”

Twenty U.N. Peacekeepers Wounded In Central Mali Attack

Twenty United Nations peacekeepers were wounded, several seriously, in central Mali on Wednesday when their base came under fire, the U.N. mission said. Islamist groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State regularly attack U.N. peacekeepers and Malian soldiers in the area, which the militants use as a base for attacks across the Sahel region south of the Sahara Desert. “We have been conducting numerous security operations in this part of Mali for several months now,” said Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the head of the UN peacekeeping mission. Four other U.N. peacekeepers were killed and five wounded in central Mali on Jan. 14 after a convoy struck an explosive device and came under fire. The peacekeeping mission has over 13,000 troops to contain violence caused by armed groups in the north and center of the country. The mission has recorded about 230 fatalities since 2013, making it the worst-hit of the U.N.’s over a dozen peacekeeping missions.

Ebola & Covid-19 Wreak Havoc Together in Guinea

Even as they continue to fight the coronavirus pandemic, health officials in Guinea have declared an epidemic on Ebola. The numbers so far are small: After a nurse died of the disease in late January, seven people who attended her funeral have since been diagnosed. Three of them have died. Staff from the World Health Organization already are on the ground in Guinea, hoping to avoid a repeat of the 2014-16 spread to neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Suspected Islamists Kill 10 People With Knives, Machetes In Congo

Men armed with knives, machetes and pick-axes killed 10 people in an overnight attack on a village in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a witness and a local rights group said on Tuesday, blaming a Islamist militia. Killings by armed groups more than doubled last year, according to the United Nations. In late 2019 the Congo army began a campaign to eliminate the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan militia that has been operating in the vast country since the 1990s. The ADF has responded with a rash of retaliatory massacres of civilians.

Earthquakes

A strong earthquake hit off the coast of northeastern Japan late Saturday, shaking Fukushima, Miyagi and other areas, but there was no threat of a tsunami. The Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, which had meltdowns following a massive earthquake and tsunami 10 years ago, was checking to see whether there were any problems following Saturday night’s magnitude 7.1 quake. There were no immediate reports of irregularities from other nuclear plants in the area, such as Onagawa or Fukushima Dai-ni. Tokyo Electric Power Co. said that some 860,000 homes were without power as a result of the quake.

Sicily’s Mount Etna volcano erupted several times on Tuesday sending orange clouds, lava and smoke into the sky.

Weather

An “unprecedented” winter storm continued its assault on the nation Tuesday. Bitter, record-smashing cold accompanied the storm across the central U.S. The historic winter storm caused widespread power outages, canceled flights, and dumped lots of snow and ice. At least 20 deaths have been linked to winter storm Uri. A deadly tornado fueled by the fierce winter storm struck a coastal North Carolina community late Monday night and killed at least three people and injured 10 more. Several homes were destroyed and many others were severely damaged.

Across the South and into the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, several million homes and businesses had no power Tuesday morning. In Texas alone, more than 4 million customers still had no electricity Tuesday morning. Some have been without power for more than 24 hours after generating stations went offline early Monday. Power plant equipment froze even as demand for electricity surged. The outages also shut down water treatment plants and hundreds of thousands of people were told to boil water before using it. The bitter cold also froze many wind turbines in the state. So many, in fact, that nearly half of the state’s installed wind power generation capacity is offline. At least 300 calls regarding carbon monoxide poisoning had been received by the fire marshals, hospitals and other agencies as people turned to non-electric portable heaters. Frozen fire hydrants have hindered firefighters.

Hundreds of record low temperatures have been set by the current cold blast, and many locations Tuesday morning saw their coldest temperatures in decades, if ever. Records were set in Oklahoma City at -14 degrees Fahrenheit, coldest since 1899, second-coldest temperature ever; Dallas: -2 degrees Fahrenheit, coldest since 1930, second-coldest temperature ever; Fayetteville, Arkansas: -20 degrees Fahrenheit, all-time coldest temperature; and Hastings, Nebraska: -30 degrees Fahrenheit, all-time coldest temperature.

Winter’s brutal assault on the U.S. continued Wednesday as another snowstorm roared its way across the nation, including areas where millions remained without electricity in record-breaking cold. In all, over 100 million Americans were in the path of the next storm as it tracks from the southern Plains to the East Coast over the next couple of days, the National Weather Service said.

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

Signs of the Times (2/10/21)

February 10, 2021

Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. (Galatians 6:1-3)

Second-Oldest Person in the World Survives Covid-19

The world’s second-oldest person has now survived two global pandemics before her 117th birthday. Sister André, a retired French nun with the given name Lucile Randon, was on Tuesday declared recovered from the coronavirus, which infected 81 of 88 residents of her retirement home in Toulon. The blind woman who uses a wheelchair is “very calm” and “looking forward to celebrating her 117th birthday on Thursday. Sister André “showed no fear of the illness”—she told one media outlet that she would happily reunite with her deceased family members. Ten residents of the retirement home have died. Diagnosed on Jan. 16, the oldest living European spent three decades caring for elderly people and orphaned children.

Trump’s Impeachment Trial Started Tuesday, Conviction Unlikely, Waste of Time

The consequences of the Senate impeachment trial that opens Tuesday could be considerable for former President Donald Trump. But the stakes have the potential to be even higher for others, especially the Republican Party. In the wake of the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, a GOP civil war has been ignited over the party’s direction and its tolerance for fringe conspiracy theorists. For Democrats, the trial will be an early test of the new majority leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, and members of his caucus. Last month, they gained control of the Senate for the first time in six years, albeit only courtesy of Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote. For President Biden it means his agenda will be delayed as the impeachment trial chews up Senate time.

  • A conviction would be a surprise, regardless of the arguments made by the nine House Democratic impeachment managers. Conviction requires a two-thirds majority – all 50 Democrats, say, plus 17 Republicans. In an earlier vote, 45 of the 50 Senate Republicans endorsed Trump’s defense, saying a president can’t be impeached once out of office.

Time Magazine Reveals Shadow Election Campaign Against Trump

In a surprising article, “The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election,” left-leaning Time magazine chronicles a myriad of pre- and post-election actions taken by a loose coalition of Democratic operatives, grassroots activists, mainstream media, tech companies, and corporate CEOs before and after the 2020 presidential election. According to the article, the effort consisted of “a well-funded cabal of powerful people, ranging across industries and ideologies, working together behind the scenes to influence perceptions, change rules and laws, steer media coverage and control the flow of information.” The article refers to this disparate grouping of players as a “conspiracy unfolding behind the scenes.” resulting in an “informal alliance between left-wing activists and business titans.” The article notes that these efforts weren’t aimed at “rigging the election; they were fortifying it.”

Supreme Court Ruling Allows Indoor Religious Services to Resume but No Singing

The U.S. Supreme Court in a split decision Friday night ruled that houses of worship in California may hold indoor services at 25% capacity, giving a partial win to groups fighting the state’s coronavirus restrictions. The high court issued the orders in two cases where plaintiffs had sued over restrictions meant to slow the spread of the virus. However, the state will be permitted to restrict singing and chanting during services, the court said. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who was confirmed last fall, both favored this middle ground short of lifting all of the restrictions on religious gatherings, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas said they would have lifted all restrictions on churches. Justice Elena Kagan, in a joint dissent with Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor, called the decision “armchair epidemiology.”

  • On Saturday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom removed the total worship ban in Tier 1 as ordered by the Supreme Court. He then replaced it with a 25 percent building capacity limit.  Meanwhile, Newsom completely exempts hundreds of secular activities he considers essential — like abortion centers, liquor stores, as well as Hollywood music and film production. 

YouTube Bans LifeSiteNews Forever Over Its Abortion Views

YouTube’s ban on LifeSiteNews also included removing their channel and all of their videos. “Thankfully, we have backups of all our videos,” LifeSiteNews said in an email, “but this means hundreds of thousands of people have lost access to our truth-telling content. You can watch our current videos on Rumble, here: https://rumble.com/user/LifeSiteNews. Being completely removed from YouTube means we’ve lost access to 300,000+ followers. Please help us build Rumble and our other alternative platforms by donating through our secure link: https://give.lifesitenews.com/

Senate Democrats Defeat Measure Protecting Babies Who Survive Abortion

Senate Democrats defeated an amendment that would have allowed for criminal and civil penalties for doctors who fail to provide health care for a baby who survives an abortion. Needing 60 votes to be placed in the budget resolution, the amendment by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) received 52 votes. A total of 48 senators – all Democrats – opposed the amendment. The amendment would have required that doctors give a baby who survives an abortion the same health care as any other baby that age. Specifically, the amendment would have allowed for the “creation of criminal and civil penalties” for “providers who fail to exercise the same degree of care for babies who survive an abortion or attempted abortion as would be provided to another child born at the same gestational age.”

Biden Rejoins U.S. With U.N. Human Rights Council

The United States announced plans Monday to reengage with the much-maligned U.N. Human Rights Council that former President Donald Trump withdrew from almost three years ago, as the Biden administration reverses another Trump-era move away from multilateral organizations and agreements. The decision is likely to draw criticism from conservative lawmakers and many in the pro-Israel community, who have derided the council and echoed Trump administration complaints that it was too quick to overlook abuses by autocratic regimes and governments — and even accept them as members. The U.S. charge d’affaires in Geneva, Mark Cassayre said that the United States will return as an observer. U.S. diplomats say that step comes with an eye toward seeking election as a full member. “While recognizing the council’s flaws, we know that this body has the potential to be an important forum for those fighting tyranny and injustice around the world,” he said.

  • President Biden will continue to move the U.S. more closely into the forming one-world government prophesied in Revelation 13:7-8 – And it was given unto him [the anti-Christ] to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

Democrats Unveil $3,000+ Child Benefit as part of Biden Relief Package

House Democratic leaders unveiled legislation Monday that would give millions of families at least $3,000 per child, advancing a key provision in President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package. The legislation would provide $3,600 per child under the age of six and $3,000 per child age six through 17 for a single year. The full benefit is available to single parents earning up to $75,000 annually and for couples earning up to $150,000. Payments would phase out after those thresholds. Families can receive the Child Tax Credit payments on a monthly basis, which advocates say would make it easier to pay their obligations compared to getting a lump sum at tax time. If this particular legislation is passed by Congress, the payments would begin in July for one year.

WHO Study Says Coronavirus Not from Wuhan Lab

The coronavirus is unlikely to have leaked from a Chinese lab and is more likely to have jumped to humans from an animal, a World Health Organization expert said Tuesday. WHO food safety and animal diseases expert Peter Ben Embarek made the assessment at the end of a visit to the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where a team of scientists is investigating the possible origins of the coronavirus. “Our initial findings suggest that the introduction through an intermediary host species is the most likely pathway and one that will require more studies and more specific, targeted research,” Embarek said. “However, the findings suggest that the laboratory incidents hypothesis is extremely unlikely to explain the introduction of the virus to the human population.”

  • Many think that WHO is covering up for the Chinese while others believe they were complicit in the release of this pathogen. Independent research is required but unlikely to happen.

Biden Calls Children Out of School and Women Out of Jobs a National Emergency

President Joe Biden said in an interview aired Sunday it was a “national emergency” that many students have been kept out of classrooms and that there has been a staggering loss of women in the workforce because of the coronavirus pandemic. He said that he believed it was “time for schools to reopen safely,” ahead of the expected release this week of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guide to reopening schools. His remarks about women losing jobs follow studies showing that women, particularly Black and Latina women, suffered steep job losses during the pandemic since they disproportionately work in some of the hardest-hit service sectors of the economy, including education. Women are down 5.3 million jobs during the pandemic, and 2.5 million women have left the workforce.

  • Some 65,000 New York City middle school students in grades six through eight will return to classrooms on February 25, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday.

Biden’s Goal for School Openings Falls Short of Campaign Rhetoric

As President Joe Biden works to reopen most of the nation’s public schools within his first 100 days, the White House clarified its benchmarks Tuesday, giving a less ambitious goal than many parents want to hear. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday Biden’s goal is for more than 50% of schools to have “some teaching” in person “at least one day a week” – not necessarily fully reopened – by Day 100 of his presidency. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, said the White House plan fell far short of Mr. Biden’s repeated promise to reopen “most schools” in the first 100 days of his presidency.

Pfizer & Moderna Vaccines Not Fully Effective till 2 Weeks After Second Dose

Many people think they are immune to the coronavirus right after they are vaccinated with the first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, but this is a dangerous illusion. It takes weeks and a second dose and then weeks more before you reach 95% immunity (meaning 5% can still be infected). Studies have shown that the Pfizer vaccine offers at least 52% immunity to COVID-19 three weeks after the first shot and achieves full protection after a week following the second dose, which is administered 21 days later. The Moderna drug recommends that doses are spaced 28 says apart. Clinical trials have shown that the Moderna vaccine reaches 94.5% efficacy 14 days after the second dose while the first dose offers up to 80% protection.

  • Unfortunately, many people are going to get infected after the first shot because they mistakenly believe that they are instantaneously fully protected.

10% of U.S. Population Now Vaccinated

A total of 33.4 million Americans have been vaccinated as of Tuesday. The number of people who have received at least one dose of the vaccine covers 27.1% of the prioritized population and 10.1% of the total U.S. population.

Johnson & Johnson CEO Predicts Annual Covid-19 Shots

Even though Johnson & Johnson has created a one-dose vaccine, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily one shot and then you’re done forever. During a Feb. 9 interview with CNBC, Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky indicated that the coronavirus behind COVID-19 may be something we’re dealing with beyond this year. “I think most people feel that this will be something where likely for, yes, the next several years we’ll be getting a COVID-19 shot just like we would a flu shot,” Gorsky said.

Pentagon to Deploy 1,100 Troops to 5 Vaccination Centers

The Pentagon will deploy more than 1,100 troops to five vaccination centers in what will be the first wave of increased military support for the White House campaign to get more Americans inoculated against COVID-19. President Joe Biden has called for setting up 100 mass vaccination centers around the country within a month. Acting FEMA Administrator Robert Fenton told reporters that two vaccination sites that will be run “predominantly” by federal forces will open in California on Feb. 16, one at California State University, Los Angeles, and the other in Oakland.

South African Puts AstraZeneca Vaccine on Hold Due to Minimal Protection Against Variant

South Africa has put its rollout of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, originally due to start next week, on hold after a study found it offered only minimal protection against a new variant of the coronavirus currently dominating new infections in the country. The study found that the vaccine “does not work against mild and moderate illness” with the variant. The lead vaccine developer says it should still work to protect against severe illness. But the study could not determine that for sure because the average age of participants was too young. The country’s health minister says the government will await advice on how to best proceed before using the 1 million vaccine doses it has received.

First Member of Congress Dies after Contracting Covid-19

Texas Republican Rep. Ron Wright has died, becoming the first member of Congress to pass away after a Covid-19 diagnosis. His office confirmed the 67-year-old’s death to Texas media Monday morning. He’d been battling COVID-19 since receiving a positive test on Jan. 21. Dozens of other members of the House and Senate have been infected by the coronavirus, but each has recovered. A congressman-elect from Louisiana did die last year, between the election and the time he was to be sworn in, after contracting the disease. Members of state legislatures have also died after COVID-19 diagnoses.

New Covid-19 Cases/Deaths Declining Worldwide, Even More So in U.S.

The number of new Covid-19 cases reported across the globe has declined for a fourth week in a row, according to data from the World Health Organization. More than 3.1 million new cases of Covid-19 were reported around the world last week, the WHO said in its weekly epidemiological update. That was a 17% decline from the previous week and the lowest number of cases worldwide since the week of October 26, 2020. The United States accounted for the highest number of new Covid-19 cases, with 871,365. However, this figure represented a 19% decline in cases from the previous week. The number of Covid-19 deaths reported worldwide decreased for the second week running, with 88,000 new deaths reported last week, a 10% drop compared to the previous week.

  • The seven-day average of new Covid-19 cases in the U.S. decreased to 108,144/day Wednesday, down from a peak of 259,964/day on January 8, a decline of 58%. Deaths, however, are going down, but at a much lesser rate than cases due to the lag between infection and death of up to 14 days. The seven-day average number of new daily deaths in the U.S. decreased to 2,688/day from a peak of 3,352 on January 12, a decline of 20%. Seven states are experiencing increasing numbers of deaths.
    • Arizona’s new daily cases have declined nearly 70% from its peak on January 12. Deaths per day, however, have decline by only about a third (33%).

UK Variant Spreading Rapidly in U.S.

The highly-contagious COVID-19 variant first detected in the United Kingdom is now spreading rapidly throughout the U.S. — doubling around every 10 days, according to a new study. Researchers predicted the strain known as B117 could become the most prevalent in the nation by next month, according to the study, which is yet to be peer reviewed and was released Sunday on the preprint server MedRxiv. The group led by scientists at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif, determined that the new variant arrived in the U.S. as early as November. On the same day as hosting Super Bowl LV, Florida on Sunday became the first state to report 200 variant COVID-19 cases, Public health officials across the nation are bracing for a possible surge in coronavirus cases if Americans failed to take heed of warnings not to gather for Super Bowl parties. The country now has 699 known cases of virus variants as of Monday, up from 618 last Thursday.

TSA Announces Fines for Unmasked Travelers

The Transportation Security Administration announced Friday that it will recommend fines ranging from $250 to $1,500 for people who do not abide by the new transportation mask order issued by President Joe Biden on his second day in office. Biden’s order requires people to wear masks in airports, bus and train terminals and on trains, planes, buses and public transportation. 

2 Million N95 Mask Counterfeits in Washington State

Hospitals across Washington state were alerted Friday to pull select N95 masks off their shelves and send them for analysis after an investigation uncovered knockoffs, said the state’s hospital association. The fake masks closely resemble N95 masks manufactured by a company called 3M. The Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA) and other hospital executives told reporters on a call Monday that 3M’s masks are typically in high demand because they come in smaller sizes and allow for a snug fit around the face. WSHA estimates there are over 2 million fake N95s that were likely acquired by the state’s hospitals.

CDC Recommends Using Better Fitting Masks or Doubling-Up Against Variants

Masks should fit better or be doubled up to protect against coronavirus variants, CDC says. Health officials found that improving the fit of a single surgical mask boosted protection substantially against potentially infectious aerosols.

People With Dementia Twice as Likely to Contract Covid-19

Researchers from Case Western University studied electronic health record data from 61.9 million American adults and found the risk for contracting COVID-19 is twice as high for people with dementia than for those without it, according to the report published Tuesday in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

San Diego School District Sees 100 Cases in First Two Days

Two days after officials welcomed back students to on-campus instruction, about 100 students and staff across a San Diego County school district were ordered to quarantine due to Covid-19 infections reported across various K-8th grade campuses. In Escondido, 8,700 students across 23 campuses were enrolled in their hybrid model learning program that began Tuesday, with students divided into cohorts and attending school in-person at different portions of the day. Yet, despite masks and social distancing, seven individuals tested positive across various Escondido school sites and attended in an infectious state

Biden Administration Worried About Putting Undue Stress on Illegal Immigrants

Worried that illegal immigrants may feel “undue stress,” Homeland Security’s legal immigration agency has now deleted a standard warning to people who overstay their visas that they ran the risk of being deported. The agency is rolling back a Trump policy that anyone who applied but was rejected for legal immigration status should be referred for deportation, through what’s known in government-speak as an NTA, or Notice to Appear. Notices to appear are akin to a summons for immigration court, where a judge would rule on whether the migrant has the right to stay.

Sheriff Warns of More Crime With Relaxed Immigration Restrictions

A Maryland sheriff warned of President Joe Biden’s immigration actions on Monday, arguing that “Americans will not be safe” and “immigrant communities will not be safe.” “These types of laws lead to more victims of crime, more violent crime [and] gangs infiltrating this country,” Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins said. Jenkins made the comments reacting to an interview by an unnamed official who told The Washington Post on Sunday that the Biden administration effectively “abolished ICE without abolishing ICE.”

Border Patrol Agents Overwhelmed by Surge of Migrants in Texas

Border Patrol agents are being overwhelmed with a surge of migrants in parts of Texas and have had to restart “catch-and-release” policies, turning people loose into the U.S. as the first signs of a migrant surge emerge under President Biden. Agents, officials and analysts say a combination of relaxed Biden border policies, coronavirus restrictions on holding people and deteriorating levels of cooperation from Mexico have left parts of the border in Texas unable to handle the surge.

Surge of Illegal Immigrants Forces Texas to Open New Tent Facility

Facing a new surge of illegal immigration, and particularly children, at the U.S.-Mexico border, the Biden administration said Tuesday it’s had to open a new tent facility in Texas to handle the increase. The new Customs and Border Protection facility is going up in Donna, near the southern tip of Texas, where it’s going to be available for use by several Border Patrol stations. The Trump administration had opened a similar tent center in Donna in 2019, but closed it in 2020 as the border numbers plummeted after a number of policy changes cut the incentives for migrants to try their luck. Numbers began to climb at the end of last year, and have soared so far in 2021.

Protesters Call for Burning Down Washington D.C.

Protesters marched in Washington, D.C. throughout the afternoon and evening Saturday. A “DC Queer and Trans Black History Month March and Rally” was organized at by the Total Liberation Collective and the Palm Collective. Later in the evening, Black Lives Matter protesters marched north from Dupont Circle. Some Antifa protesters mixed in, as a red and black “Antifascist Action” flag could be seen being carried by a group of protesters clad in black. The protesters briefly paused in front of a row of restaurants where some protesters scuffled with police officers. Chants of “Black lives, they matter here” and “If we don’t get it, burn it down” rang out from the crowd. 

Hacker Tried to Flood Fla. City’s Water Supply With Lye

Thousands of people in a Florida city could have been poisoned had a hacker’s plan come to pass. Authorities say the as-yet-unknown person hacked into Oldsmar’s water treatment system Friday and tried to increase the levels of sodium hydroxide, also known as lye, to more than 100 times what is typical. A supervisor saw what was happening and immediately returned the sodium hydroxide to the correct level; authorities say there was never any adverse effect on the water supply. Had the operator not noticed, it would have taken 24 to 36 hours for the tainted water to reach the water supply, and several redundancies exist to alert workers levels are too high if something like this happens, authorities say. Even so, this is the type of scenario cybersecurity experts are highly concerned about, especially as systems increasingly go online and become more accessible via the internet.

Rent Assistance Mostly Goes to White Rural America

Forty million Americans are behind on rent and are threatened with eviction. Most have been waiting on aid from the federal government for nearly a year. Many believed help was on the way after Congress passed on Dec. 21 $25 billion in rental assistance that was supposed to pay rental arrears—in some cases covering up to 12 months of back rent. But the Emergency Assistance Rental Program won’t benefit all Americans equally, according to a USA TODAY analysis. The government payments will overwhelmingly benefit white Americans living in less populated states even though most Americans and most Americans affected by the pandemic and the recession live in the most populated states.

U.S. Economy Down 9.9 Million Jobs During Pandemic

The U.S. economy is down 9.9 million jobs since the pandemic began, more than the jobs lost in the Great Recession. Almost 40% of people out of work have been unemployed for 27 weeks or longer, a dangerous signal of potentially permanent economic damage. At 6.3%, the jobless rate fell to a pandemic-era low. But not for a good reason. Another 400,000 workers dropped out of the labor market in January alone. Most either couldn’t find a job and stopped looking, or faced family obligations that forced them to take on the unpaid job of taking care of relatives and kids.

U.S. Budget Deficit Soared in January with Latest Stimulus

The U.S. budget deficit soared in January as Congress approved another massive coronavirus relief bill that sent direct aid to Americans still reeling from the pandemic, the Congressional Budget Office said this week. In January, the gap between what the government spent and what it collected hit $165 billion, five times what it was one year ago. The most expensive provision in the legislation was the $142 billion in stimulus checks the federal government delivered in January. Spending on unemployment benefits rose to $34 billion last month from $28 billion in December.

CBO Says $15 Minimum Wage Would Eliminate 1.4 Million Jobs, But Life 900,000 Out of Poverty

Congress is divided over whether to include a phased-in hike of the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 in the Covid-19 relief bill. A new report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates the measure could result in some 1.4 million workers losing jobs, but it would also lift 900,000 out of poverty. According to Bloomberg, the number of Americans living in poverty has risen by 8 million during the pandemic.

U.S. Airlines Awash in Borrowed Cash

The U.S. airline industry just closed the books on the worst year in its history, losing a combined $32 billion excluding special items. Yet it still ended 2020 awash in an ocean of cash. The nation’s four largest airlines had $31.5 billion in cash on their balance sheets at the end of 2020. That’s up from $13 billion a year earlier, before the pandemic hit. The airlines received substantial financial help from the federal government, but most of that money was required to be spent keeping staff on payrolls temporarily. The major share of the increased cash came from borrowing. Like a struggling family flooded with credit card offers, the airlines have a lot of banks and Wall Street firms eager to give them cash.

  • The cash will help see them through the pandemic, but the debt load will become a later hurdle to overcome, just as the U.S. economy will also find itself under a vastly increased debt load after trillions of stimulus.

World Sees Record Budget Deficits, Impose Negative Interest Rates

The pandemic is pushing economic policy to the limits and beyond. Governments around the world are running record budget deficits, and central banks are becoming addicted to easy money policies that would have been unthinkable two decades ago. Once unthinkable, negative interest rates are now accepted practice. The pandemic is stretching government spending worldwide over to its previously acceptable limits. The combined fiscal response to the pandemic totals 12% of global GDP, compared to 2% of global GDP following the 2008 financial crisis, according to Capital Economics. Stimulus spending helped push the US deficit for the 2020 fiscal year to $3.1 trillion, and the country’s debt topped $21 trillion — the biggest share of the economy since 1946, when it was emerging from World War II.

Working at Home Leads to 2.5 Hour Increase in Working Day

New research conducted during the pandemic shows that home-working employees in the United Kingdom, Austria, Canada and the United States are putting in more hours than when the worked in an office. Home working has led to a 2.5-hour increase in the average working day in those countries, said NordVPN Teams, a New York-based company that provides virtual private networks (VPNs) to businesses. The United Kingdom and the Netherlands stand out, with employees “working until 8pm, regularly logging off later than usual to wrap up an extended working day,” the report added.

Semiconductor Shortage Battering Global Auto Industry

A semiconductor shortage is battering the global auto industry at a crucial moment, and the pressure shows no sign of easing soon. Leading semiconductor manufacturers reassigned capacity from automakers last year after the pandemic hurt car sales, instead shipping chips to companies that produce smartphones, gaming systems and other tech gadgets that were in high demand. Ford told investors Thursday that the chip crunch could shave up to 20% off first-quarter production and the company’s earnings could take a $1 billion to $2.5 billion hit. GM is shutting some plants in the United States, Canada and Mexico next week due to the insufficient supplies, while Volkswagen, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, Nissan and Honda have also been affected.

Despite Pandemic & Chip Shortage, GM Scores $6.4 Billion Profit in 2020

Despite the pandemic and chip shortage, General Motors announced Wednesday that it earned $6.4 billion in 2020, a modest decline from the year before, as brisk sales of pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles in the second half of the year offset the damage on its business caused by the pandemic in the spring.

Netanyahu Rebuffs Biden Administration’s Dithering About Golan Heights

In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, new U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken dodged a direct answer as to whether the Biden administration would continue to see the Golan Heights as part of Israel after President Donald Trump recognized Israeli sovereignty over the area that was captured from Syria in 1967. The vague response could be perceived as a retreat from the Trump administration’s clear-cut recognition of Israel sovereignty over that strategic plateau. It drew a swift response from the Israeli prime minister’s office. “Israel’s position is clear. In any future possible scenario the Golan will remain Israeli,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman said, according to The Jerusalem Post.

UN Inspectors Find New Evidence of Iran Nuclear Duplicity

United Nations inspectors have found new evidence of undeclared nuclear activities in Iran, according to three diplomats briefed on the discovery, raising new questions about the scope of the country’s atomic ambitions. Samples taken from two sites during inspections in the fall by the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency contained traces of radioactive material, the diplomats said, that could indicate Iran has undertaken work on nuclear weapons. Last year, Iran blocked IAEA inspectors from checking the sites involved for seven months.

Iran Threatens to Make Nuclear Weapons

Minister of Information Mahmoud Alavi said in an interview published Monday by the official IRNA news agency that if the U.S. doesn’t remove crippling economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic then it might make nuclear weapons. “Our nuclear industry is peaceful and the fatwa of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution has declared nuclear weapons forbidden, but if they push the Islamic Republic of Iran in that direction, it is no longer the fault of Iran but the fault of those who pushed Iran,” said the powerful government minister. “The only way for the Americans is to lift the sanctions at once,” Alavi said, adding that Iran is demanding the U.S. pay financial compensation for the sanctions that would amount to billions of dollars.

U.S. Will Not Lift Sanctions To Get Iran To Negotiating Table -Biden | Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden said the United States will not lift its economic sanctions on Iran in order to get Tehran back to the negotiating table to discuss how to revive the Iran nuclear deal, according to a video released by CBS News on Sunday. Asked if the United States will lift sanctions first to get Iran back to the negotiating table, Biden replied: “no” in the interview, which was recorded on Friday. Asked if Iran had to stop enriching uranium first, Biden nodded. It was not clear exactly what he meant, as Iran is permitted to enrich uranium under the 2015 nuclear deal within certain limits.

Five Killed In Kabul As Attacks Increasingly Target Civilians

Five government employees were killed in two separate attacks in Afghanistan’s capital on Tuesday, officials said, the latest in a series in which civilians have been targeted. Unknown gunmen opened fire on a vehicle carrying employees of a provincial rural economic development department in southern Kabul, killing four people. The head of the department was among those killed as they headed back to the central province of Maidan Wardak where their department was based. In addition, a foreign affairs ministry vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in eastern Kabul, killing the driver, the ministry said in a statement. Almost daily deadly attacks with small, magnetic bombs attached to the undercarriages of vehicles, roadside explosive devices and shootings are unnerving Afghan officials, activists and journalists. The attacks are concentrated in urban centers and come as protracted peace talks take place in Doha between Taliban militants and Afghan government officials.

U.S.-Backed Forces Stepping Up Campaign Against Islamic State In Eastern Syria

U.S.-backed forces have intensified their campaign against the remnants of the Islamic State (IS) terror group in eastern Syria. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a military alliance that has been a major U.S. partner in the fight against IS, said it has captured dozens of IS members in the eastern Syrian province of Deir el-Zour. “Our forces have already arrested over 30 terrorists,” said Siyamend Ali, a press officer with the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the main element within SDF. “This ongoing campaign is targeting (IS) hideouts and underground tunnels that have been instrumental in their recent insurgency.” The SDF said in a statement last week that its latest campaign was in retaliation for the recent killing of two female officials by IS.

Strong Undersea Earthquakes Strike Offshore New Zealand & Indonesia

The U.S. Geological Agency said a magnitude 7.7 undersea earthquake hit north of New Zealand Wednesday evening. It was centered at a depth of 6 miles southeast of the Loyalty Islands. It was not expected to cause significant damage or fatalities on land. The U.S. Tsunami Warning Center issued tsunami watches for New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu and other Pacific islands. Meanwhile, a strong undersea earthquake shook western Indonesia on Wednesday, but no injuries were immediately reported. The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 6.2 quake struck at a depth of 6 miles and was centered 135 miles south-southwest of Bengkulu city in Bengkulu province on the southwestern side of Sumatra island.

Polar Vortex Brings Frigid Temperatures to 16% of U.S.

The infamous polar vortex is on its way. Much of the nation will experience below-freezing temperatures this week, with 16 states across the Midwest and northern Plains forecast to endure temperatures below zero. That covers 16% of the country – or 41 million people. The blast of frigid air is likely to advance deep into the south-central states and across the entire eastern third of the nation.

Glacier Breaks Free, Killing 18, Trapping 3 Dozen in India

More than three dozen people remained trapped Monday in a tunnel filled with debris and mud after it was slammed by a wall of water unleashed when part of a glacier broke free in northern India. The flood happened Sunday morning when part of the Nanda Devi glacier snapped off and released the water trapped behind it. The tunnel is at one of two power plants damaged when the floodwaters roared down a mountain in the northern state of Uttarakhand and smashed through two dams and inundated villages. At least 18 people were killed in the disaster and 165 are missing in the Chamoli district.

Record 14 People Killed in U.S. Avalanches in Past Week, 21 So Far This Winter

Fourteen people are dead after avalanches in five different states over the course of last week, highlighting the danger that comes during the peak of avalanche season and winter weather. Four skiers died in Utah Saturday when they were buried by an avalanche, It’s the highest number of avalanche deaths recorded in a seven-day period since the U.S. Forest Service’s National Avalanche Center started tracking deaths. There have been a total of 21 avalanche deaths this winter so far.

Signs of the Times (2/5/210

February 5, 2021

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Habakkuk 3:17-18)

Biden Urges a Turn to Faith at National Prayer Breakfast

Faith will help the nation survive this “dark, dark time,” President Joe Biden said in a recorded message Thursday for the National Prayer Breakfast. Presidents have addressed for nearly seven decades the breakfast held virtually this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. The five living former presidents sent written or filmed messages for Thursday’s event – with one notable exception. There were no remarks from former President Trump. “For so many in our nation, this is a dark, dark time. So where do we turn? Faith,” Biden said. As the second Catholic president, Biden said his faith provides hope and solace, clarity and purpose.

U.S. Bishop Calls Out Biden Over Faith vs. Abortion

Kansas City Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann told LifeSiteNews that the bishops of the United States have an “obligation” to act when it comes to the country’s president identifying himself as a devout Catholic while working to expand abortion. “The fact that President Biden identifies himself as a devout Catholic, while working to preserve and expand legalized abortion, even using tax dollars to fund abortion, presents a unique challenge to the Bishops of the United States,” said Naumann, who also acts as chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities. “It is the responsibility of the Bishops of the United States to defend the most fundamental of all human rights, the right to life, and to protect the integrity of Catholic moral teaching.”

March for Life Mostly Virtual This Year Due to Pandemic

Rather than bring a few hundred thousand pro-life activists together in close quarters, the March for Life decided to go mostly virtual this year. That gave supporters around the world a chance for the first time to all join together for the day’s events online and live. But some still decided to march physically on the U.S. Supreme Court to bear witness to the more than 62 million babies killed since that court legalized abortion nationwide. Only a couple of dozen pro-life leaders were actually supposed to show up. But a couple of hundred ended up on the streets of DC marching to the Supreme Court. A large crowd also gathered peacefully outside D.C.’s Planned Parenthood, some standing with signs supporting life, while others could be seen kneeling and praying with rosaries in hand.

VP Harris Casts Deciding Vote to Clear Path for Stimulus Bill

Vice President Kamala Harris used her vote to break a 50-50 Senate tie and clear the way for President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan early Friday. The budget resolution will allow Democrats to bypass the filibuster and get the relief package through the Senate without Republican support. During the 15-hour “vote-a-rama” triggered by Senate rules, there were votes on 43 nonbinding amendments, and Republicans managed to score a few wins, reports the Hill. “It’s the one time with budget vote-a-rama where anybody can ask for a vote on anything,” said GOP Sen. Mike Lee. Congress enacted $4 trillion in COVID-19 relief last year.

Biden Announces a Slew of Foreign Policy Shifts

In his first diplomatic address since becoming president, Joe Biden on Thursday declared that “America is back” on the global stage. “American leadership must meet this new moment of advancing authoritarianism, including the growing ambitions of China to rival the United States and the determination of Russia to damage and disrupt our democracy,” he said during a visit to the State Department with Vice President Kamala Harris. Biden specifically called out Myanmar, urging military leaders there to put an end to their coup, and said the U.S. will no longer support the Saudi Arabia-led military campaign in Yemen. He also announced that troop redeployments from Germany will be frozen, the limit on refugees allowed to enter the U.S. will be increased, and America’s support for LGBTQ+ rights around the globe will be reaffirmed

CDC Mandates Masks on Planes, Public Transportation

The CDC has issued an order requiring travelers to wear a mask on public transportation in the U.S., echoing an executive order by President Joe Biden shortly after he took office. The CDC order takes effect Monday. It states passengers on airplanes, trains, buses, subways, ships, ferries, taxis, and ride-shares must wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth while getting on such vehicles, during the ride and while getting off. Additionally, people must wear masks on the premises of transportation hubs such as airports, train, and subway stations, bus and ferry terminals, seaports and ports of entry. Masks must stay on while people await, board, travel, and disembark public transportation.

Vaccinations On the Upswing After Disappointing Start

About 1.3 million people nationwide are how receiving a vaccination every day. Eligibility for the vaccine varies widely by state. Teachers are eligible in more than 20 states, and grocery store workers in more than 10. Almost every state has opened vaccines to some older residents. As of Feb 4, About 8.4% of people in the U.S. have received at least one COVID-19 shot, and about 2.1% of people have received both doses of the vaccine. About 38.8% of the shots distributed haven’t been used yet.

Vaccines to be Shipped to Pharmacies on February 11

The Biden administration announced Tuesday it will soon begin direct shipments of coronavirus vaccines to retail pharmacies on February 11, expanding points of access for Americans to receive shots. The administration also announced that it is increasing the weekly allocation of vaccines going to states, tribes and territories by an additional 5%, bringing the weekly total of vaccines purchased per week a minimum of 10.5 million, White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said.

Covid-19 Victims May Need Only One Vaccination Dose

People who already have contracted COVID-19 may not require the recommended two doses of the vaccine according to a new study. Researchers found that one dose boosts immunity for those who have had the disease to the same level as if they received both doses. According to The Hill, Florian Krammer, a professor of microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai who led the study, those who previously were infected by the virus had more severe side effects after the first dose, such as fatigue, fever, headaches, chills, and muscle and joint pain, according to The New York Times. The immune systems of those who have had COVID-19 are already primed for attack when they recognize the genetic code of the virus. When that bit of genetic material from the vaccine is injected into the body, the immune system responds, causing people to feel sick.

AstraZeneca Vaccine Strong After Just One Dose

The COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca appears to provide strong protection three months after just one dose while also curbing spread of infections, researchers said Wednesday. British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the study supports a strategy of delaying the second shot so more first doses can be delivered to more people. Researchers found a 67% reduction in positive “swabs” among those vaccinated. If no virus is present, the virus can’t be spread.

Johnson & Johnson Single Dose Vaccine Submitted to FDA

Johnson & Johnson asked U.S. regulators Thursday to clear the world’s first single-dose COVID-19 vaccine, an easier-to-use option that could boost scarce supplies. J&J’s vaccine was safe and offered strong protection against moderate to severe COVID-19, according to preliminary results from a massive international study. It didn’t appear quite as strong as two-dose competitors made by Pfizer and Moderna. The FDA advisory panel will meet Feb. 26, when the agency is expected to greenlight the vaccine. Overall, the single-dose vaccine was 66% effective at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19, but it was 85% protective against the most serious symptoms.

China to Supply 10 Million Vaccines to Developing Countries

China will supply 10 million coronavirus vaccines to developing countries through an initiative co-led by the World Health Organization, called COVAX, according to China’s Foreign Ministry. China is answering to a request from the WHO, to help supply vaccines to lower income countries. China has already shipped large numbers of doses of its own vaccines, mainly to developing countries. It has pursued deals or donations with more than 30 nations far exceeding the 10 million doses it is providing to COVAX. In Turkey alone, Chinese company Sinovac Biotech Ltd. has struck a deal to sell 50 million doses. A vaccine developed by Sinopharm has been authorized for use in China, and the company said the vaccine is 79.3% effective.

  • Russia reported that its Sputnik V vaccines has an effectiveness rate of more than 90%. But Japan says it is struggling to obtain enough vaccine doses to allow it to host the Olympics in July.

Over Half of U.S. Blacks Hesitant to Get Vaccine

More than half of Black adults in the U.S. remain hesitant to get the Covid-19 vaccine. Respondents said they either don’t plan to get the shot or they are uncertain if they should or will get the shot, according to a new survey released Thursday by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. The survey found that only 49% of Black adults plan to get the vaccine. The findings come as data from many states reveal that White people are getting vaccinated at an average of twice the rate of Black people.

329 People Died Shortly After Getting Vaccinated in U.S.

In America, at least 329 people died after taking the COVID-19 vaccination, reports Liberty Counsel. Many occurred within 48 hours of the vaccine. About 179 people have died since receiving Pfizer’s vaccine and 94 have died after receiving the Moderna vaccine. In addition, there have been nearly 10,000 adverse reactions reported after the COVID vaccine. These numbers are “voluntary” reports to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) and likely exclude an unknown number of additional deaths and adverse reactions.

Coronavirus New Cases Down by 30% Over Last Two Weeks

Reports of new coronavirus cases have fallen by 30 percent over the last two weeks. Forty-seven states are seeing sustained declines. Arizona is down by 40%. Four of the five metro areas with the highest rates of recent cases are in Texas. Infections have been emerging at alarming levels around Eagle Pass, Laredo, Rio Grande City and Midland. The country continues to average about 3,000 deaths a day, near peak levels. Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia have reached seven-day death records this week.

  • The CDC reported Friday that at least 618 cases of the coronavirus variants from the United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa have been recorded across 33 states. Existing vaccines, treatments and tests still work well, emphasized the FDA’s acting commissioner Janet Woodcock.

4,000 Mutations of Coronavirus, But Only a Few Variants

There are about 4,000 mutations of coronavirus around the world, UK Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi said on Thursday. While thousands of individual changes have arisen as the virus mutates on replication and evolves into new variants, only a tiny minority are likely to be important or change the virus in an appreciable way, according to the British Medical Journal. “The number of mutations has little actual relevance as many mutations emerge and disappear continuously,” Ravi Gupta, a professor of microbiology at Cambridge University, said. “Scientists are using ‘variants’ to describe viruses with mutations that are transmitting in the general population – there aren’t 4,000 of those.”

80% Report Loss of Smell & Taste Due to Covid-19, Some Up to 6 Months

Millions of people worldwide have suffered changes to their sense of smell or taste after contracting COVID-19. In most cases, the symptoms usually only last a few weeks. But a year into the pandemic, researchers still aren’t sure when some COVID-19 survivors may get their senses back – if ever – and many are struggling with the long-term safety, hygiene and psychiatric implications of the loss. Studies suggest up to 80% of people who have COVID-19 symptoms experience smell or taste dysfunction. Most people regain their senses within a few weeks, but approximately 5-10% will continue to have sensory loss after 6 months.

  • The CDC website tells Americans to avoid shouting or cheering during Sunday’s Super Bowl to help avoid the spread of COVID-19.

270 Million Face Hunger Catastrophe Worldwide from Covid, Conflict & Weather

The situation in 2021 in some parts of the world has been described as “an escalating hunger catastrophe,” with some 270 million people “on the brink of starvation” due to the combined effects of Covid-19, conflict and weather extremes, particularly in Africa, parts of Asia and parts of the Middle East. In the Central African Republic, torn by fresh violence, 2.3 million people are projected to need food. UN assessments show “alarming figures of severe malnutrition among the newly displaced.” In Africa, some areas are experiencing drought while others have had fields so flooded that crops were ruined.

Australia’s Stringent Lockdowns Kept Infections Way Down

Two million people in parts of Western Australia went into a five-day lockdown Sunday, after a hotel security guard tested positive for coronavirus. The Perth metropolitan area and the Peel and South West regions of the Australian state are now under “full lockdown,” Premier Mark McGowan announced Sunday, with residents only able to leave their homes for essential shopping, medical needs, exercise, and for jobs that cannot be done at home or remotely. Schools, most businesses, entertainment venues and places of worship are all closed, and restaurants restricted to takeaway only. Australia has relied on full lockdowns after even one case which has kept the coronavirus in check while it surges elsewhere around the world.

Chicago Parents Say Virtual Schooling is Mentally Killing Their Children

Chicago public school parents said Monday that children are suffering “mental abuse” by not returning to the classroom amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying “we are killing our kids mentally” with the school shutdowns. “We’ve had 40 suicides that I know of up in our area … and we’ve only had eight kids die from COVID and I’m sorry that those 8 kids died, but we are killing our children mentally,” said parent Amy Jacobson. The public school system and the teacher’s union failed to reach a deal over the weekend to resume in-person learning. Teachers are reluctant to return during the pandemic.

  • Chicago Public Schools has backed down on its threat to lock K-8 teachers out of their remote learning tools if they failed to show up at its facilities this week to prepare for the return of in-person classes.

Washington, D.C. Files Restraining Order Against Teachers’ Union

Washington, D.C., has filed a motion for a restraining order against the Washington Teachers’ Union in an effort to prevent strikes as the District plans to reopen schools. Elizabeth Davis, president of the Washington Teachers’ Union, said during a Tuesday press conference that “because no strike is ongoing or imminent, any action by the court is unnecessary and premature… Teachers want nothing more than to get back to school for in-person learning, and they want to do it in a way that is safe… We know that in-school learning is best for our kids, but we also know that COVID-19 is extremely dangerous.”

Many Children in U.S. Still Lack Connectivity for Virtual Schooling

About two-thirds of U.S. public-school students are doing at least some of their classes from home, according to Burbio, a company tracking school districts’ reopening plans. Yet more than more than 157 million people were not using the internet at broadband speeds as of 2019, according to Microsoft. While access is a bigger problem in rural areas, cost is an issue for low-income families everywhere. Broadband service can cost up to $349.95 a month in California and up to $299.95 in parts of Alaska, Kentucky, and Virginia, according to data from BroadbandNow.com. As of December, at least 11 of the 25 largest districts in the U.S. were still distributing devices or internet to students or could not define the extent of lingering connectivity needs, a USA TODAY survey showed. Many low-income students got them only halfway through the year, further slowing their learning. And the district-supplied devices are starting to break down and there’s not enough IT support, advocates for disadvantaged families say.

America’s Historic Murder Rate Increase in 2020 has ‘No Modern Precedent’

Murder rates saw a “historic” increase in 2020 compared to 2019, with more than 1,200 additional killings year-over-year in a sample of 34 American cities, according to a study released Monday. Homicide rates jumped by 30% from 2019 to 2020, while gun assault and aggravated assault rates climbed 8% and 6%, respectively, researchers found. “Homicide rates were higher during every month of 2020 relative to rates from the previous year,” the report states, calling the 30% surge “a large and troubling increase that has no modern precedent.” The report authors blame the coronavirus pandemic, police killings and the anti-police movement as the primary causes of the increased homicide rate.

Cities with Liberal DA’s See Soaring Homicides and Lawsuits

District attorneys implementing liberal agendas in some of America’s biggest cities oversaw soaring homicide counts last year and are now being hit with lawsuits and recriminations from police agencies. Angry police officers and their backers are doing all they can to boost a May primary challenge to Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, who refuses to prosecute some gun possession and drug crimes. A California court is scheduled to hear a lawsuit Tuesday filed by the Association of Deputy District Attorneys in Los Angeles against District Attorney George Gascon. The suit accuses Mr. Gascon of illegally blocking prosecutors from pursuing enhanced sentencing in violent crimes and other major criminal cases. The homicide sprees in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, St. Louis and Chicago occurred on the watch of district attorneys who came to power with the help of political action committees bankrolled by billionaire liberal activist George Soros, who increasingly devotes his largesse to municipal law-and-order races. 

Canada is First Nation to Declare Proud Boys a Terrorist Organization

The Canadian government added the Proud Boys, an extremist group with ties to white nationalism, to its list of terrorist organizations. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair announced Wednesday the Proud Boys were one of 13 groups now designated as terrorist organizations, including the Russian Imperial Movement and two neo-Nazi groups — the Atomwaffen Division and The Base. Designating a group a terrorist organization allows the government to seize its assets and increase terrorism-related penalties.

Washington State Protesters Take Over Hotel to Demand Help for Homeless

Washington state police arrested at least 12 people who occupied an Olympia hotel in an alleged attempt to “forcibly take over the hotel” and demand local authorities provide housing for homeless individuals during the coronavirus pandemic. The group of approximately 45 people barged into the Downtown Olympia Red Lion Hotel around 11 a.m. local time Sunday “armed with items such as hatchets, batons, knives and had gasmasks, helmets and goggles apparently in preparation for a confrontation,” the city reported. One hotel worker was assaulted during the takeover, while the others sought refuge in the building’s basement. The group took over the first two floors of the hotel and reportedly covered the windows with dark-colored tarps. Bystanders took shelter in their rooms.

Gun Sales in January Set a New Record

The Capitol Hill insurrection and the inauguration of a Democratic president who campaigned on strengthening gun control measures helped the firearms industry set a January gun sales record last month, according to the latest gun-related background checks data released Monday. Gun merchants sold more than 2 million firearms in January, a 75% increase over the estimated 1.2 million guns sold in January 2020. It’s not unusual for gun sales to spike when a Democrat wins the White House. The election and re-election of Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 were both followed by gun sale surges. President Biden’s 2020 campaign rhetoric about banning AR-15s and requiring gun owners to register their weapons to comply with the National Firearms Act has left some gun owners more fearful that their ability to buy guns and ammunition may soon be curtailed.

Facebook Forced to Un-Censor HCQ, Frontline Doctors’ Post

Facebook’s new oversight board has overturned the tech giant’s decision to censor a post promoting the use of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) as a treatment for COVID-19. The social media platform removed the post last year, saying that it caused a “risk of offline harm” due to “misinformation”. The Oversight Board’s judgment comes in the midst of a new study published in the American Journal of Medicine (AJM) which confirmed positive results for early treatments of COVID-19 using HCQ, and supported early outpatient treatment with this medication. In a recent white paper dealing with these topics, a group called America’s Frontline Doctors describes HCQ as “one of the safest medications in the world, safer than Motrin or Tylenol.”

Texas Fights Back Against Biden Order Banning Drilling on Federal Land

Republican Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw has introduced a bill that aims to protect oil and gas industry jobs near the Gulf of Mexico. he legislation comes after President Biden signed an executive order this week to suspend oil and gas leasing on federal lands and offshore waters for one year. “Texas energy producers are bearing the brunt of President Biden’s foolish, job-killing executive orders in the first days of this administration,” Crenshaw said in a Thursday statement, adding that the new administration “is showing little regard to the livelihoods of blue-collar workers who are already struggling during this pandemic.”

Oregon Law to Decriminalize All Drugs Went Into Effect Monday

Measure 110 in Oregon is first-of-its-kind legislation that decriminalizes the possession of all illegal drugs in the state, including heroin, cocaine, meth and oxycodone. Instead of a criminal justice-based approach, the state will pivot to a health care-based approach, offering addicts treatment instead of prison time. Those in possession will be fined $100, a citation that will be dropped if they agree to a health assessment. The law went into effect Monday and will be implemented over the next decade by the state officials at the Oregon Health Authority. Nationally, others are hopeful this could be the first in a wave of progressive measures that undo years of damage caused by drug criminalization, which disproportionately imprisoned people of color across the U.S.

Millions Move Out of Cities/Coasts to Inland Suburbs

Millions of Americans ended 2020 at a different address than where they started the year of the pandemic. By October, 8.93 million people had moved since the pandemic began in March, according to the U.S. Postal Service. Contracts from moving van companies show that people headed away from population centers on the coasts, with New York and California losing the most residents in 2020. And the National Association of Realtor’s report found that newly untethered remote workers left big cities for the suburbs. This pattern is expected to continue into 2021. With more people deciding where to live based on their personal needs instead of their commuting time to work, it could mean long-term growth for suburbs and much smaller cities.

Eviction Moratorium Extended to End of March, Landlords Struggling

With the evictions moratorium originally set to expire on January 31, newly elected President Biden, on his first day in office, signed an executive order prolonging the eviction ban until at least the end of March. Under this eviction moratorium, tenants who fail to pay their rent or mortgage are shielded from removal, so long as they submit a formal declaration to their landlords, proving their financial hardship is COVID-related. Any landlord who fails to comply with the CDC’s policy can be slapped with fines up to $200,000, face criminal prosecution, and even be forced to serve time behind bars. But many landlords are struggling to survive, falling behind themselves on bills to pay and mouths to feed. Many constitutional attorneys have questioned why the CDC is making policy decisions in the residential real estate market, given that the Constitution does not authorize it to do so. Only Congress has the power to create and pass laws.

Economic News

The economy gained only 49,000 jobs in January, a sign the pace of the recovery remains anemic. Total jobs lost since February, 2020, now stands at 9.9 million, down from a peak of over 22 million last April. The unemployment rate, which is calculated from a different survey, fell from 6.7% to 6.3%, the Labor Department said Friday.

Although the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits declined to 779,000 last week, that is still an historically high number which shows that a sizable number of people keep losing jobs during the pandemic. The number of claims was 812,000 the previous week. Normal is around 250,000. All told, 17.8 million people were receiving unemployment benefits in the week that ended Jan. 16. That’s down from 18.3 million from the week before.

The U.S. is experiencing a real estate boom the likes of which it hasn’t seen in 15 years. Home prices are rising practically everywhere. Driven by historically low interest rates that make borrowing cheap and waves of people fleeing densely populated cities because of COVID-19, home buying has become as competitive as it was during the boom years of the mid-2000s. Supplies of existing dwellings have dwindled far below normal. Realtors are receiving multiple offers. Builders can’t keep up with demand and flipping is back. Analysts are worried that this new housing bubble might burst as it did in 2009.

Biden Administration Moves Ahead With Nuclear Treaty With Russia

The Biden administration announced Wednesday it will extend a major nuclear nonproliferation treaty with Russia by five years, despite outcry from critics — including several influential Republican lawmakers — who say the move ignores China’s emergence as a major nuclear power and cedes leverage to Moscow over future negotiations. Secretary of State Antony Blinken defended the decision to extend the “New Start” or Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty ahead of a Feb. 5 deadline by which it was slated to expire. “Extending New Start without a renegotiation at this time is the right move because it will enable U.S. officials to continue “monitor[ing] Russian compliance with the treaty and provides us with great insight into Russia’s nuclear posture, including through data exchanges and onsite inspections that allow U.S. inspectors to have eyes on Russian nuclear forces and facilities.” The pact dates back to the early-1990s and was last renegotiated in 2011. It limits how many intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads the U.S. and Russia are allowed to possess. The Arms Control Association, a Washington-based nonprofit, estimates that Russia has around 6,374 nuclear warheads while the U.S. has roughly 5,800 and China‘s number is about 320.

Israel Preparing for War With Iran Over Nukes

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Monday evening with the finance and defense ministers to discuss the allocation of “at least” 3 billion shekels to prepare for a possible attack on Iran. The Defense Ministry made its proposed budget based on Iran’s growing nuclear threat as it continues to abrogate terms of the 2015 agreement. The Islamic republic has greatly enlarged its uranium stockpile and recently began enriching the material to 20%, a level that sharply reduces the time needed to make a bomb. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday that Iran could be just “weeks away” from having enough fissile material for a bomb if it keeps up its current pace. In a speech last Tuesday at an Institute for National Securities Studies conference, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi stated Israel would not just stand by and let Iran obtain a nuclear weapon.

U.S. Senate Votes to Keep Embassy in Jerusalem

In a landslide vote Thursday the Senate approved a budget resolution amendment making the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem permanent, so that it could not be moved out of Israel’s capital in the future. The bi-partisan amendment was approved 97-3, with the only objectors being Democratic Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Tom Carper. “The Trump Administration kept its promise to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, the eternal and indivisible capital of the Jewish State of Israel, and it should remain there,” said Senator Hagerty.

Myanmar Military Carries Out Coup D’état

Myanmar’s de facto civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been detained by the military after the armed forces carried out a coup d’état, the BBC reports. Suu Kyi’s ruling party won enough seats in November’s election, just the second since military rule ended in 2011, to form a government, but the armed forces disputed the result, claiming election fraud—a charge the electoral commission denies. On Monday, the military said it was transferring power to the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing. Soldiers have been deployed in the streets, and a state of emergency has been declared for one year. Many in the international community denounced the power grab as a threat to the strained progress made over the past 10 years.

  • The Biden administration on Tuesday declared the military takeover occurring in Myanmar a “coup d’état,” a characterization that requires a halt to providing aid to such countries.

Violence in Africa is At a Crisis Point, Thousands of Christians Have Been Killed

Across the African continent, Islamist groups like ISIS, al-Shabaab, and Ansar al-Sharia are strengthening their numbers, increasing their territory, and surging ahead into country after country. In West Africa, Nigeria is the site of what has been described as a slow-motion genocide. Tens of thousands of Nigerian Christians have been massacred in recent years, reports the Family Research Council. In East Africa, fighters linked to Islamic State attacked several villages in Mozambique, killing civilians, abducting women and children, and burning down homes. The gruesome description in November 2020 of innocent people “herded” to their death onto a soccer field, where they were systematically decapitated and dismembered, was nightmarish.

  • As fatal violence becomes increasingly common, please continue to pray for stability and security in Africa and for the protection of Christians who often find themselves a target of terrorist attacks.

Honduras Includes Abortion Ban into Constitution

The Honduran National Congress strengthened pro-life laws last week by amending the national constitution to declare that unborn babies have the same rights as born human beings under the law. Lawmakers passed the reforms in response to growing international pressure on pro-life countries to legalize abortions. They amended the Honduran Constitution to read: “The unborn shall be considered as born for all rights accorded within the limits established by law. It is prohibited and illegal for the mother or a third party to practice any form of interruption of life on the unborn, whose life must be respected from conception.”

Wildfires

A raging wildfire fueled by windy, hot conditions in southwest Australia has burned at least 71 homes and prompted dire warnings for residents in the potential path of the flames. “You are in danger and need to act immediately to survive,” said an alert sent by emergency officials at about 12:45 a.m. local time Wednesday. The alert advised residents in some areas that “it’s too late to leave and leaving now would be deadly.” The blaze is burning near the town of Wooroloo about 30 miles outside of Perth. Winds and steep terrain are creating hazardous conditions for crews battling the wildfire.

Weather

Winter storm Orlena hammered the northeast U.S. Monday and Tuesday leaving some areas with 30 inches of snow and others with coastal flooding. Overall, 560 flights nationwide had been canceled at area airports. Commercial traffic was banned on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and Interstate 95. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed a proclamation of disaster emergency on Monday. The National Weather Service reported 36 inches of snow in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, about 75 miles north of Philadelphia. New Jersey State Police said troopers had responded to 661 crashes and come to the aid of 1,050 motorists since 6 p.m. Sunday. Coastal flooding continued to be a problem, especially in Massachusetts.

A pileup involving roughly 40 vehicles backed up traffic for miles Thursday on Interstate 80 amid snowy weather in Iowa. Iowa and Minnesota saw 6 inches of snowfall, while Illinois received 4.5 inches and Michigan and Wisconsin neared a foot of snow. By early next week, much of the nation will see below-freezing temperatures due to another polar vortex. The core of the bitter cold will be in the Upper Midwest and northern Plains, where wind chill temperatures will plummet as low as 40 degrees below zero in parts of the Dakotas this weekend.

Virus-free. www.avg.com