Monday, October 31, 2016

Earthquakes

15,000 housed in shelters after 2 months of earthquakes in Italy - UPI.com
UPI reports: "More than 15,000 people are being housed in temporary shelters in Italy after a series of earthquakes in the country's central region, including a 6.6-magnitude temblor Sunday, emergency officials said. There have not been reports of deaths due to the earthquake, the epicenter of which was 40 miles southwest of Perugia near Norcia -- a town already trying to recover from a previous series of large quakes."

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False Christs

'Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath' to premiere on A&E Nov. 29 - UPI.com
UPI reports: "A&E Network says its new docuseries Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath will debut Nov. 29. The eight-episode program is meant to give 'a voice to victims of the Church of Scientology despite public attempts to discredit them,' the cable network said in a press release. Hosted by Remini, an actress, TV personality and a former follower of the controversial religion, the show will also feature 'a team of former, high-ranking Scientology insiders who understand the inner workings and policies of the organization.'"

Comment: Isn't it extraordinary that people continue to make up new religions? Jesus said there would be false Christs who offer fake salvation, but why bother with a fake when you can get the real thing?

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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Earthquakes

Italy rocked by another earth quake, felt in Rome - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Following days of tremors, another powerful earthquake hit central Italy Sunday with tremors felt in Rome and other cities. Dozens of historic buildings have reportedly been destroyed by the 6.6 magnitude earthquake with dozens of others heavily damaged, The Guardian reported. The quake's epicenter was about 40 miles southwest of Perugia near the town of Norcia, which was already trying to recover from a previous series of large quakes. Many of the town's residents had already evacuated due to quakes on Wednesday. No deaths have been reported, but a number of people are injured."

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Friday, October 28, 2016

Rumors of War

Russian, U.S. fighter planes over Syria nearly collide in midair - UPI.com
UPI reports: "A Russian fighter plane flew dangerously close to a U.S. plane over eastern Syria, U.S. defense officials said Friday. [...] Russia flies constant air patrols over Syria, most over the city of Aleppo, and routinely passes through airspace in which planes of the U.S.-led coalition can be found, officials said. The Pentagon regularly points out examples of unsafe or unprofessional behavior in air operations."

Comment: Rarely in history have the military forces of two nuclear armed rivals who are not at war comes so close, on a frequent basis, to accidentally engaging each other. It's not in the headlines all that much, but the situation remains as it has been for some time, Syria is a tripwire that could easily lead to a wider Mideast war involving Russia and the United States.

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Global Government

Experts: Russia, U.S., China will determine the future of the world - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Politicians and experts from 35 countries, including Russia, the United States, China, India and Australia are meeting in Sochi through Thursday for the 13th annual gathering of the Valdai Discussion Club. The group meets every year at different locations in Russia to share views on the problems facing the global community today. This year, participants have stressed the irreversibility of the changes currently taking place in world politics, predicting tectonic shifts in the global political order in the very near future."

Comment: Global problems need global solutions, this is the new mantra. Of course, there have always been global problems, so why then do they act as if this is a new thing? 

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Earthquakes

Moderate 5.5 magnitude quake felt in Italy - UPI.com
UPI reports: "A strong aftershock rattled central Italy late Wednesday, a couple hours after a 5.5 magnitude earthquake hit. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the 6.4 magnitude aftershock hit a short time after the first quake was recorded at 7:10 p.m. local time Wednesday. The first quake was centered in Macerata, which is located about 140 miles northeast of Rome. The shaking was reportedly felt in the Italian capital."

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Persecution

Canadian pastor detained in North Korea hospitalized - UPI.com
UPI reports: "A Canadian pastor detained in North Korea has been hospitalized for two months due to deteriorating health. Hyeon Soo Lim, founder of Light Presbyterian Church in Toronto, has been in North Korea custody since January 2015. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labor last December."

Comment: Please join me in praying for Pastor Lim and the persecuted church in North Korea.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Gospel Preachd to All

Is God really dead? How Britain lost faith in the church - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Is God dead? Fifty years ago, on April 8, 1966, a Time magazine cover asked just that question. The same could be asked in Britain today. The Church of England recently announced it was considering dropping the requirement for weekly church services in parish churches in the wake of dwindling attendance that shows no sign of bouncing back for at least a generation. Low church attendance is frequently in the news, but looking deeper into the phenomenon reveals what the underlying issues really are."

Comment: How's the church doing in England? Not very well according to this opinion piece but the situation is more interesting and more complicated if you look at other denominations, particularly at evangelical churches. The article is worth a read and it's also worth praying for revival.

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Persecution

Christian Today - The Threats Faced By Christian Refugees In Germany
Christian Today reports: "The Christian persecution charity released on Monday a case study on a centre for refugees in Rotenburg, central Germany. Researchers found that Christians living in the centre had faced death threats from Muslim refugees, and 'sentencing' by unofficial 'Sharia councils'. On 10 July, a number of Christian refugees returned from church to find a notice in one of the rooms that said: 'To all Muslims: now is the time to behead the unbelievers'. The Christians were temporarily moved to live in a local church to avoid attack."

Comment: Please join me in praying for these Christians being persecuted in the heart of Europe. 

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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Jerusalem Peace - Covenant With Many

Israel thanks Italy for stance on UNESCO Jerusalem resolution
AFP reports: "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked his Italian counterpart Matteo Renzi on Saturday for his stance against a resolution adopted by UNESCO on Jerusalem. The UN cultural agency on Tuesday adopted an Arab-sponsored resolution condemning Israel's actions at a flashpoint holy site in east Jerusalem, deepening anger in the Jewish state. On Friday, Renzi strongly criticised the resolution, saying that Rome -- which had abstained in the vote -- would now oppose it."

Comment: The notion that there's no Jewish connection to the Temple Mount is absurd, so the real story here is not that one European country broke ranks with the UN position, it's that most of them haven't.  Congratulations to Italy for taking a stand for Israel!

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Friday, October 21, 2016

War

Islamic State 'sleeper cells' kill dozens in Kirkuk - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Islamic State militants on Friday attacked Iraqi government buildings in the northern city of Kirkuk as well as a nearby power plant, killing dozens of people about 100 miles away from Mosul, Iraqi officials said. Three police stations and an Iraqi political party headquarters were attacked within Kirkuk in the Kirkuk Governorate, whose governor later said the attack carried out by IS sleeper cells had been 'foiled.' At least six police officers and 16 civilians died in Kirkuk, while at least 13 died in the power plant attack in the nearby Dibbis village."

Comment: So, the Islamic State counterattacked but not in Mosul, in Kirkuk. Interesting strategy.  I wonder if that means there will be a lot more bombings and insurgent-style attacks around Iraq as the battle for Musul continues?

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Rumors of War - Kings of the East

China deploys air force on disputed South China Sea island - UPI.com
UPI reports: "China confirmed it has stationed troops in the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. Beijing's People's Liberation Army Daily reported on Thursday the Chinese military has deployed airmen on Woody Island, also known as Yongxing Island in China. The report comes more than a year after Chinese President Xi Jinping said China is not pursuing militarization of another cluster of islands, the Spratlys, during his state visit in September 2015. At the time China had already broken a pledge to halt reclamation and had built three runways on artificial islands at the Fiery Cross and Subi reefs."

Comment: So much for not militarizing the islands. It's only a matter of time before some small naval incident sparks a major war between all these competing countries.  The scary thing is that there are elements within the Chinese military that are actively seeking this so they can demonstrate their resolve and show off their new navy and air force.

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Pestilence

CDC: Zika testing for all pregnant women in Miami-Dade County - UPI.com
UPI reports: "U.S. health officials are now recommending that all pregnant women who have recently spent time in any part of Miami-Dade County in Florida be tested for Zika infection. Previously, testing had only been urged for pregnant women who had been in areas of the county where Zika had been spreading locally. [...] The Zika epidemic has been centered in Latin America and the Caribbean, with Brazil reporting the largest numbers of infections and microcephaly."

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Rumors of War - Kings of the East

North Korea threatens pre-emptive strike, ridicules THAAD decision - UPI.com
UPI reports: "North Korea warned the United States and South Korea on Wednesday that even 'minor signs of aggression' against Pyongyang would be met with the wholesale destruction of Seoul and the presidential Blue House. [...] In the same article, North Korea ridiculed the South Korean decision to deploy a U.S. missile defense system, also known as THAAD, calling the goal of deterrence a 'foolish delusion.'"

Comment: It's rather amazing that the situation with North Korea isn't a bigger issue in the U.S. presidential election. Have journalists even asked the candidates about it? 

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

War

Slow fight for Mosul could take a while, officials say - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Coalition forces in Iraq are slowly and steadily marching toward the contested northern city of Mosul, but pockets of armed resistance from militant insurgents along the way suggest it will be a protracted fight, at least according to military strategists. Iraqi government, Kurdish, Peshmerga and other forces, some of whom are trained by the Pentagon, have been gearing up for the Mosul Offensive for weeks to take back the town from the Islamic State terror group. Monday marked the start of the campaign, which by all accounts might take a while."

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King of the North

Vladimir Putin's not so secret, secret plan to gain influence - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Over the past decade and a half, Putin has become convinced that the United States is no longer trustworthy. The rot began in 2001 with the unilateral abrogation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty by George W. Bush, followed by the disastrous Iraqi intervention two years later that Putin insisted would be a catastrophe. The expansion of NATO, the stationing of anti-ballistic missiles in Europe and the overtures to Georgia and Ukraine to join the Atlantic alliance all convinced Putin that Russia was being physically surrounded, internationally marginalized and, worse, disrespected. The 2011 Libyan raid that catalyzed a civil war was the final straw."

Comment: It's always instructive to see the world through the eyes of another person. No two people perceive the world exactly the same way, nor do countries. In my opinion, the U.S. failed to follow Churchill's dictum (In War: Resolution, In Defeat: Defiance, In Victory: Magnanimity, In Peace: Good Will) after winning the Cold War. A little magnanimity and good will would have gone a long way. It's not too late, of course, but relations can never be repaired if fault is not acknowledged.

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Persecution

Angry Muslims Say Teen Christian Boy Must Die For 'Insulting Islam' - Christian Today
Christian Today reports: "An angry mob of 80 Muslims has confronted a Christian boy, demanding he is hanged. The mob also threatened to burn his family to death for a Facebook post they claim insulted Islam. The case is just the latest of rising persecution of Christians in Pakistan, a Muslim-majority country."

Comment: This is a dangerous time for Christians in Pakistan, please join me in praying for the believers there. 

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War

'Heavy losses' for Islamic State in battle for Mosul, Iraqi forces say - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Iraqi security forces on Monday said the Islamic State has had 'heavy' losses of militants and equipment as the long-awaited battle for Mosul wages. [...] Mosul is considered one of the most important battles in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq, as it is considered the militant Islamist group's last major stronghold in the country."

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Rumors of War - Persia

How have Iran's military capabilities developed since 1979? - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The watershed moment for Iran's defense was when Tehran connected with China. As Iran began buying in high volume directly from China, it gradually moved away from Eastern bloc suppliers and, according to Rafiqdoost, it was this burgeoning Iranian-Sino defense relationship that prompted Russia to begin selling weapons to Tehran. Since then, Iran became the most important export market for Russian defense products, including fighter aircraft such as the MiG-29 and Su-24, submarines such as the Kilo-class, and air defense systems such as the recently delivered S-300 — even if business has not always been smooth."

Comment: This is a great overview of the development of the Iranian military since the Islamic revolution. 

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Saturday, October 15, 2016

Rumors of War - Kings of the East

U.S. detects failed North Korean midrange missile test - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The U.S. military said it detected a failed missile test by North Korea on Friday, their seventh such test this year. U.S. Strategic Command said the test was for a Musudan intermediate missile. It occurred at 10:33 p.m. Friday in the northwest city of Kusong. The missile failed to launch and detonated on the ground, the Pentagon said. [...]  Though the North has successfully detonated nuclear bombs, they have not shown the capacity to develop bombs small enough they could be fit onto a missile in order to deliver a nuclear payload. Nor, as Friday's test shows, have they perfected the missile technology itself. All the tests are in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions banning them."

Comment: It looks like Obama will let his successor worry about what to do about North Korea. Because this problem is so fraught with danger I suspect nothing much will be done until the North is very close to fitting a nuclear warhead on a missile. The real question is for the intelligence services, how will they know when the North is close enough that an attack will deter them?  

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Friday, October 14, 2016

Peace of Jerusalem - Temple Mount

Yahoo News - Israel slams UNESCO over 'Occupied Jerusalem'
Yahoo News reports: "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted UNESCO for holding a vote Thursday on 'Occupied Palestine' saying the Paris-based UN cultural body has lost its legitimacy. The resolutions put forward by several Arab countries including Egypt, Lebanon and Algeria, were adopted at committee stage and are to be submitted Tuesday to UNESCO's executive body. Participants said 24 votes were cast in favour and six against with 26 abstentions and two absentees. The resolutions refer to 'Occupied Palestine' and aim to 'safeguard the Palestinian cultural heritage and the distinctive character of East Jerusalem', according to a text seen by AFP. [...] The status of Jerusalem is the thorniest issue of the decades-long Palestinian conflict. Israel captured east Jerusalem during the 1967 war and later annexed it -- in a move not recognised by the international community -- declaring all of the city its unified capital. The Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their promised future state."

Comment: Once again the UN's anti-Israel bias is evident for all to see. To deny the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount flies in the face of history, archeology and culture. That they couldn't even use the term "Temple Mount" is an example of the extreme political agenda at work. As for east Jerusalem, in all of human history when a country or kingdom wins territory in war then it's settled. That's why they fight wars, to settle territorial claims. This concept is apparently not applied to Israel even though they won the territory fair and square, somehow it's still "contested" and "claimed" by the Palestinians. There's nothing to say that Israel couldn't give it to the Palestinians in a final peace agreement, but until they do, the territory belongs to Israel. Not that the UN will ever recognize that.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Rumors of War

Missiles fired at U.S. warship of coast of Yemen for second time this week - UPI.com
UPI reports: "A U.S. Naval destroyer off the coast of Yemen was targeted by missiles for the second time in a week, and military commanders are now threatening retaliation as it becomes apparent rebel forces in the country are responsible for the attacks."

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Rumors of War - Kings of the East

Seoul strengthening plan to remove North Korea leadership in case of strike - UPI.com
UPI reports: South Korea's military is planning to significantly enhance operational capabilities to strike the North Korean leadership should Pyongyang be first to launch a nuclear attack. [...] The disclosure of Seoul's latest plans comes at a time when more U.S. North Korea experts are arguing in favor of pre-emptive strikes against the Kim Jong Un regime, if there is evidence North Korea was preparing an attack against the United States or its allies, according to Yonhap."

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Pestilence

Zika virus can damage fetal brain late in pregnancy: Study - UPI.com
 UPI reports: "The Zika virus may harm a baby's brain even if the mother is infected just before giving birth, a new study suggests. It had been believed that Zika infection posed a threat to a baby's brain only if the mother was infected during the first trimester. Since the Zika outbreak began in Brazil in April 2015, thousands of babies have been born with the devastating birth defect known as microcephaly, in which the head and brain are abnormally small."

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Pestilence

U.N. raising funds to stop post-hurricane cholera outbreak in Haiti - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The United Nations made an emergency appeal for $120 million in humanitarian aid for Haiti, devastated last week by Hurricane Matthew. [...] Among the fears is a renewed outbreak of cholera, which severely impacted the country in 2010. Thirteen people have died of cholera in Haiti since the hurricane, Interim President Jocelerme Privert said. The disease is spread through water or food contaminated with bacteria, and can cause severe diarrhea and vomiting, leading to extreme dehydration. Medical officials in the southwestern part of the country say they have run out of anesthetics and antibiotics."

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Monday, October 10, 2016

Rumors of War - King of the North - Doomed Damascus

Russia to build permanent naval base at Tartus, Syria - UPI.com
UPI reports: "A supply base for the Russian navy at Tartus, Syria, will be expanded to a permanent naval base, Russian Defense Minister Nikolai Pankov said Monday. The current facility, on the Mediterranean Sea between Turkey and Lebanon, has only a single pier, dates to 1977 and the Soviet era, and is used as a repair station and supply center for the Russian navy, its only base in the Mediterranean. [...] the upgraded base will have comprehensive defense systems and other capabilities lacking in the current supply post. An advanced anti-missile system already arrived at Tartus to protect the port and warships from airstrikes, Russia confirmed last week.

Russia: U.S. actions a threat to our national security - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Tensions continue to rise between the United States and Russia as the Russian foreign minister said Sunday recent actions and statements threaten his country's national security. [...] The relationship between leaders in Russia and the United States has gotten rockier in the last several weeks as the two countries have publicly disagreed over how to intervene in the civil war in Syria.

Comment: I remember a time when the idea that Russia was the "King of the North" and would have a strategic interest in the Middle East was mocked. Now, it seems like Russia's presence and power in the Middle East grows on a daily basis. It's extraordinary. Time to go back and read Ezekiel.

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