Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Famine

South Sudan still faces starvation as famine is declared over - UPI.com
UPI reports: "South Sudan is no longer in a state of famine, although 1.7 million people still face emergency levels of hunger, a United Nations-backed report said. Tens of thousands of South Sudanese have died and millions displaced in a long-running civil war. The conflict, a series of inadequate harvests and a corresponding rise in the price of food led to the declaration of a famine in February."

Comment: This is some good news, for a change, although the report suggests that it's a stretch to say all is well in the region. 

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War - Nations in Distress

Michigan airport stabbing suspect identified as Canadian citizen - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Authorities on Wednesday identified the suspect in an airport stabbing attack on a Michigan police officer as Amor M. Ftouhi, a native of Canada. [...] Prosecutors said before starting the attack, Ftouhi shouted an Arabic phrase meaning 'God is great.' The Canadian citizen now faces federal charges in the attack, a criminal complaint filed in District Court Wednesday said."

Comment: Wow, what an amazing example of the lengths reporters go through to avoid mentioning that once again an act of violence has been perpetrated by a follower of that Religion That Shall Not Be Named.  They even take care to translate the religious slogan followers chant before killing people in the name of their god so as to remove any hint of actual context. What the attacker actually said was "allahu akbar" which is a reference to the god worshiped by the Religion That Shall Not Be Named and not God in the Judeo-Christian tradition or any other religion. If you doubt that distinction you need only ask one of the followers of the Religion That Shall Not Be Named and they will explain it to you.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

War - Nations in Distress

Suspect shot after explosion at Brussels train station, officials say - UPI.com
UPI reports: "One suspect was shot by police in Belgium on Tuesday night after a small explosion at the main train station in Brussels, authorities said. The Belgium Crisis Center posted on Twitter the 'situation is under control' after the after the military "neutralized" the suspect. [...] A platform worker at the station said he heard a man shout 'Allahu akbar' ("God is Great in Arabic") before the blast and saw him try to enter an office carrying a rolling suitcase. The unidentified suspect was wearing what appeared to be an explosive belt, several Belgian officials told ABC News. But authorities didn't confirm the report."

Comment: I know these are all isolated incidents, but after several over as many days, it does appear to be more than random. I suppose that is the mind looking for patterns. 

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Pestilence

Zika-bearing mosquitoes more widespread in U.S. than expected - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The latest buzz from federal health officials is that mosquitoes that can spread Zika, dengue and chikungunya viruses are in more counties in the southern United States than previously thought. [...] Areas that may need extra surveillance for Zika-carrying mosquitoes include states with established populations such as California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Florida and the other Gulf Coast states, plus certain Mid-Atlantic states, the report said."

Comment: Use your bug spray and be careful out there. 

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Rumors of War - War - King of the North

Russia threatens to shoot down, escort out aircraft operating in Syria - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Russia said it is ending logistical military coordination with the United States and threatened to shoot down any aircraft west of the Euphrates River after the U.S. Navy shot down a Syrian regime jet. [... ] The U.S.-led international coalition fighting the Islamic State on Sunday said it shot down a Syrian regime fighter jet because it was attacking the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces militia near Tabqah. The SDF is leading the ground offensive in Syria to capture the Islamic State's stronghold of Raqqa. [...] The Russian ministry said any aircraft operating west of the Euphrates River will now be regarded by the Russian air force as legitimate targets, which will either be shot down or escorted out of the area."

Comment: This is like that old tale about the frog in the hot water. This situation has been building for a such a long time we can't really say that U.S. and Russian military forces are suddenly about to come into direct conflict, there's nothing sudden about this, but the reality is still the same. American, Russian and Iranian military forces are operating one international border away from Israel and things are heating up. The potential for direct confrontation, either accidental or intentional, is high.

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War - Wickedness Increases

Terror suspect dead after copycat attack in Paris - UPI.com
UPI reports: "A suspected terrorist was killed Monday after he rammed his vehicle into a police convoy on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris, authorities said -- the second time in less than two months the famous street has seen such an event. Police said a man driving a Renault automobile drove into the convoy and burst into flames. It had been carrying two gas canisters, investigators said. Officials said by the time firefighters arrived at the scene, the suspect was dead. It's not believed any police officers or civilians were injured in the attack. [...] Monday's attack was the second on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in two months."

London: Man drives into crowd of people leaving mosque; 1 dead - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Police in London arrested a man after he "intentionally" drove a vehicle into several pedestrians near a mosque Sunday, leaving one person dead. London Metropolitan Police said in a statement that one death has been confirmed and eight people were injured and taken to nearby hospitals. Two more people were treated for minor injuries at the scene. The victims were worshippers leaving a mosque in London's Finsbury Park."

Comment: Terrorism implies a political agenda intended to change the behavior of a state or group of people. For example, political separatists might engage in terrorist attacks in order to force a government to grant them independence or recognize their self-declared state (examples: ETA, PKK, IRA, PLO, ISIS). Engaging in random acts of violence or acting on the stated intent to kill people makes one a criminal and a murderer but not a terrorist. Using these definitions, can you accurately classify the two events above? If so, you have more discernment than most media outlets. In these politically correct times, such distinctions become inconvenient and it's simply easier to call them both acts of terrorism, after all, the victims won't mind. 

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Wickedness Increases

Girlfriend whose texts urged suicide guilty of manslaughter - AP
AP reports: "A woman who sent her boyfriend a barrage of text messages urging him to kill himself when they were both teenagers was convicted Friday of involuntary manslaughter in a trial that raised questions about whether words can kill. The judge found that Michelle Carter caused the death of Conrad Roy III, who intentionally filled his truck with carbon monoxide in a Fairhaven, Massachusetts, store parking lot in July 2014."

Comment: I know there are terrible and horrible crimes that happen all the time and this may not rise to that level, but sometimes, the worst crimes and most wicked actions of all are those that are not violent but are cold-blooded, a reflection of a total lack of humanity.

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

War

APNewsBreak: About 4,000 more US troops to go to Afghanistan
AP reports: "The Pentagon will send almost 4,000 additional American forces to Afghanistan, a Trump administration official said Thursday, hoping to break a stalemate in a war that has now passed to a third U.S. commander in chief. The deployment will be the largest of American manpower under Donald Trump’s young presidency. The decision by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis could be announced as early as next week, the official said. It follows Trump’s move to give Mattis the authority to set troop levels and seeks to address assertions by the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan that he doesn’t have enough forces to help Afghanistan’s army against a resurgent Taliban insurgency."

Comment: Time to defeat the Taliban...again. And let's not make this controversial at all, let's not have crowds in the streets rioting because the government told us the Taliban had been defeated and now they have to send thousands more U.S. troops to finish the job. Let's hope those crazed zealots calling for leaders to be held accountable for lost lives and questionable strategy are held in check.

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Rumors of War

Report: North Korea behind WannaCry virus cyberattack - UPI.com
UPI reports: "North Korea could be behind the WannaCry malware virus attack that paralyzed computers in more than 150 countries in May, according to the National Security Agency. The Washington Post reported Wednesday the NSA made an assessment last week and with 'moderate confidence' could say Pyongyang's Reconnaissance General Bureau was behind the cyberattack that affected 300,000 computer users worldwide."

Comment: It's definitely a new era for war and conflict. From other sources I've read, it's very difficult to say with absolute certainty who is responsible for such attacks and I would be surprised if they took any retaliatory action without more evidence.  

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wickedness Increases

Suspected ballfield shooter belonged to anti-GOP groups - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The suspected shooter at a congressional baseball practice Wednesday belonged to several anti-Republican groups and campaigned for former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in 2016. Police identified James T. Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Ill., as the shooter who opened fire on congressional Republicans practicing baseball in Alexandria, Va. President Donald Trump announced Hodgkinson died of a gunshot wound."

Gunman kills 3 at UPS facility in San Francisco - UPI.com
UPI reports: "A man opened fire at a UPS mailing center in downtown San Francisco on Wednesday and killed three people before turning the gun on himself, authorities said."

Comment: What a sad and strange day in which we had news of a mass shooting interrupted by news of another mass shooting. It's the kind of surreal thing that brings home to you the dangerous and perilous times we live in (2 Timothy 3).

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

War

Defense Secretary James Mattis to senators: 'We are not winning in Afghanistan' - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Defense Secretary James Mattis had strong words for a Senate committee Tuesday: The United States and its allies 'are not winning in Afghanistan right now.' Mattis' comments to the Senate Armed Services Committee come one day after he criticized the House's Armed Services Committee for not providing enough military resources. But regarding problems in Afghanistan, Mattis pledged to the Senators 'we will correct this as soon as possible.'"

Comment: I find it incredible that the American people can be so complacent and apathetic as to accept being at war for well over a decade without a hint of victory. 

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Monday, June 12, 2017

Rumors of War - Kings of the East

China deploys new tank in Tibet, near India border - UPI.com
UPI reports: "China deployed its latest military tank, the Xinqingtan, in an area of Tibet near the Indian border. Chinese news site Guancha reported Monday Beijing is increasing military buildup in Tibet in a show of force designed to deter the Indian military. [...] The deployment of the tanks expands the Tibet-based unit and has increased their fighting power, the news site reported."

Comment: I think we should take note of any indication of increasing military tensions between the two most populous countries on Earth with a long history of wars and border conflicts, countries that also happen to be nuclear powers.

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Earthquakes

Magnitude-6.3 earthquake strikes eastern Turkey, island of Lesbos - UPI.com
UPI reports: "A magnitude-6.3 earthquake struck western Turkey and the Greek island of Lesbos on Monday afternoon. The epicenter was at a depth of 4 miles in the Aegean Sea, 3 miles south of the Greek town of Plomari, on Lesbos island, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. It struck at 3:28 p.m. The BBC reported tremors were felt in Istanbul and Athens."

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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Pestilence

Study shows potential Zika vaccine completely protects mice - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Just one dose of an experimental Zika vaccine provided mice with 100 percent protection against a potentially lethal dose of the virus, researchers report. The quick spread of the Zika virus and its devastating effects on the brain development of babies have made the need for a vaccine to protect against this mosquito-borne virus a global issue. Currently, the main way to ward off the virus is to avoid mosquito bites."

Comment: I hope this isn't one of those discoveries that they have to study for decades before the vaccine gets to the people who need it.  Maybe that can put it on the fast track, if modern medicine has such a thing.

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