Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Persecution

Philippines analyzing video of priest captured in Marawi - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The Philippines military on Wednesday said it is analyzing a video purportedly showing a Roman Catholic priest captured by militants loyal to the Islamic State in Marawi City [...] he is among 200 people, including women and children, abducted by Abu Sayyaf and the Maute militant Islamist groups. The number of those captured has not yet been verified."

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Rumors of War

Pentagon: U.S. successfully destroys ICBM target in defense test - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The U.S. military said it shot down a mock ballistic missile in the first test of its ground-based intercept system Tuesday, simulating a scenario if North Korea shoots a missile toward the United States. [...] Pyongyang has performed nine missile launch tests this year, including one Monday involving a short-range ballistic missile."

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Friday, May 26, 2017

Persecution

23 killed in attack targeting Egypt's Coptic Christians - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying Coptic Christians in the Minya province Friday, killing at least 23 people and injuring 25 others, an Egyptian security official said. The bus was heading toward the Monastery of St. Samuel on a road near El Edwa city in Minya, about 140 miles south of Cairo. [...] No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack but the Islamic State has previously launched attacks targeting Egypt's Coptic Christians."

Comment: Please join me in praying for the church in Egypt, that the Holy Spirit will comfort and encourage them.

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Pestilence

Zika may cause lasting eye problems, lab study suggests - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Scientists exploring how the Zika virus passes from pregnant monkeys to their fetuses believe the infection may be more dangerous to human pregnancies than previously believed. 'The results we're seeing in monkey pregnancies make us think that, as they grow, more human babies might develop Zika-related disease pathology than is currently appreciated,' said lead researcher Ted Golos."

Comment: I guess we will know soon enough, as mosquito season is upon us.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Persecution - Nations in Distress

Philippines terror: Americans warned after church hostage-taking, policeman beheaded | Fox News
Fox News reports: "The United States Embassy issued a warning to U.S. citizens in a southern Philippine city on Wednesday after terrorists linked to the Islamic State swept through the region, beheading a police chief, burning buildings, seizing a Catholic priest and his worshippers and raising the black flag of ISIS, officials said. The embassy suspended mission personnel travel to Mindanao as they analyzed the chaos that has left at least 21 people dead."

Comment: The anti-Christian agenda of ISIS was on full display in the Philippines today. Praying for Christians there as they face continued unrest and possibly more attacks.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

War

British police: 22 dead after suicide bomber attack at Ariana Grande concert - UPI.com
UPI reports: "A suicide bomber killed 22 people and injured 59 others Monday night at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, British police said. The bomber died in what police were treating as a terrorist incident, Chief Constable Ian Hopkins of the Greater Manchester Police said in a statement. 'We believe the attacker was carrying an improvised explosive device, which he detonated, causing this atrocity,' he said."

Britain raises terror alert to highest level after Manchester attack - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The British government raised its terror threat alert to its highest level on Tuesday, following the deadly attack on an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. British Prime Minister Theresa May announced the heightened alert -- from 'severe' to 'critical' -- which indicates that another terrorist attack could be imminent. [...] The elevation allows British officials to deploy armed forces to secure potential target areas and support police officers. Earlier Tuesday, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bombing that killed 22 people and injured 59. Officials said several school-age children were among them."

Comment: What a terrible attack, 22 killed at a concert by a suicide bomber. One reporter on MSM news seemed to want to stress that despite the Islamic State taking credit for the attack, they have no direct proof. Really? Who else is deploying suicide bombers these days, Basque separatists?

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Covenant With Many

Donald Trump, Mahmoud Abbas call for start to Israeli-Palestinian peace talks - UPI.com UPI reports: "President Donald Trump called for a breakthrough in Israeli-Palestinian relations after he met Tuesday in Bethlehem with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas announced he is ready to be Trump's partner in securing peace in the Middle East through establishment of a Palestinian state on land captured by Israel in 1967."

Comment:  The Palestinian con game in which the "moderate" Fatah negotiates for peace on behalf of the Palestinians while the Iran-backed militant group Hamas rules Gaza and rejects peace talks will eventually have to be shown for what it is and directly confronted. Few political leaders (like Trump today) are willing to do that and prefer to offer up the illusion that Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of Fatah, speaks for all Palestinians. It's difficult to see how that situation ends in anything except another war.

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Monday, May 22, 2017

Covenant With Many

Donald Trump arrives in Israel, says 'great opportunity' for Middle East peace - UPI.com UPI reports: "Speaking from Jerusalem, U.S. President Donald Trump said Israel has a 'great opportunity' for peace in the Middle East because 'people have just had enough ... of the bloodshed and the killing.' Trump on Monday arrived in Israel, where he will meet with Israeli leaders and participate in traditional ceremonies. After Air Force One landed in Tel Aviv, the Israeli capital, Trump boarded Marine One, the presidential helicopter, to travel to Jerusalem. [...] On Tuesday, Trump is scheduled to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem and discuss Middle East peace."

Comment: I don't really see anything new here, no new proposals, no new initiatives. This appears to be simply an initial meeting to assess the situation and test their receptiveness to starting negotiations.

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Rumors of War - Kings of the East

China calls on U.S., North Korea to end nuclear standoff - UPI.com
UPI reports: "China urged the United States and North Korea to commit to a political decision to solve the "nuclear problem." Beijing's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying made the remark on Friday in response to a statement from U.S. State Secretary Rex Tillerson, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported. Tillerson said Washington would guarantee Pyongyang regime security if certain conditions are met, according to South Korean special envoy Hong Seok-hyun."

Comment: I have yet to see any evidence that Chinese "pressure" has prompted any change in the North's behavior. We may be days or weeks away from yet another missile test.

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Famine

U.N.: 10 million North Koreans face food shortages - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Levels of hunger not found in other parts of East Asia persist in North Korea, according to a report from two United Nations agencies. The Food and Agricultural Organization and World Food Program's 2017 Global Report on Food Crisis states 17 percent of the North Korean population, or 4.4 million, are in a state of 'crisis, emergency and famine,' Voice of America reported Thursday. Nearly 1 out of 5 North Koreans face the most severe form of food insecurity, classified as "phase 3 and higher," according to the U.N. scale."

Comment: Does it count as a real famine if it's entirely caused by a despotic ruler? I suppose the people who are starving don't really care if it's a natural famine or a man-made famine, right? 

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Rumors of War

Ransomware hackers say they will dump data on North Korea nukes - UPI.com
UPI reports: "A group of hackers claiming responsibility for the global ransomware cyberattack that began Friday said they would soon "dump" data related to North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. The Shadow Brokers made the statement in a blog post, while saying they would also divulge information on the weapons of Russia, China and Iran."

Comment: Cyberwarfare seems murky and convoluted and I have to admit, this is a very unexpected development.  How will North Korea, Russia, China and Iran react? Stay tuned!

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Pestilence

Specific type of antibiotic resistant 'superbug' common in Houston, study says - UPI.com UPI reports: "A type of bacteria that's resistant to many widely used antibiotics is unusually common among people in Houston, new research reveals. The superbug, known as Klebsiella pneumoniae, is particularly prevalent in this city of 6 million people, according to scientists."

Comment: It's alarming when they start talking about "superbugs" becoming more common. 

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Monday, May 15, 2017

Kings of the East

China's Xi Jinping pledges infrastructure spending across Asia, Europe and Africa - UPI.com
UPI reports: "President Xi Jinping kicked off the inaugural Belt and Road Forum in Beijing on Sunday with promises to take China to the 'center of the world stage.' The forum was an economic convention of sorts, with Xi, China's president and Communist Party leader, as the main showcase. Dozens of leaders from Russia and Asia were in attendance. The U.S. declined to send officials, and aside from an Italian delegation, Europe was absent. During opening remarks, Xi pledged $100 billion for China's development banks -- money for massive infrastructure projects in Asia, Europe and Africa. The president has dubbed the funding initiative 'One Belt, One Road.'  The idea is to facilitate a 21st century Silk Road, a system of trains, ports and bridges -- an economic conveyor belt connecting three continents."

Comment: This is a very ambitious project to restore the old Silk Road trade routes and indeed make them better than ever. As this report notes, it's about trade and development but it's also about increasing China's power and influence. This is an important development worth keeping an eye on. 

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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Rumors of War

North Korea holds another missile launch test - UPI.com
UPI reports: "North Korea conducted another in a string of missile tests Saturday amid heightened international tensions over its nuclear program. South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported the missile was launched from the city of Kusong, north of the capital Pyongyang and traveled an estimated 435 miles (700 kilometers) before falling into the ocean."

Comment: How many is this now? The article says this was one in a "string of missile tests" so I'm not even sure the reporter knows how many there have been. What's one more? Eventually they will figure it out and perfect the process, after all, it is rocket science.

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Friday, May 12, 2017

Pestilence

Ebola outbreak in remote part of DR Congo - Yahoo News
AFP reports: "The first Ebola outbreak since the crisis in West Africa that killed 11,300 people has been declared in northeast Democratic Republic of Congo, the World Health Organization said Friday, after the virus caused three deaths in the area. In a television address, Health Minister Oly Ilunga confirmed the cases while urging the population 'not to panic'. The country "has taken all necessary measures to respond quickly and efficiently to this new outbreak", he said. The DR Congo outbreak is the first there in three years. The three deaths all occurred since April 22."

Comment: I really hope the WHO has learned the lessons of the past and do a much better job with this outbreak. 

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Mark of the Beast

India is building a biometric database for 1.3 billion people — and enrollment is mandatory - LA Times
The LA Times reports: "Nearly 9 out of 10 Indians have registered, each assigned a unique 12-digit number that serves as a digital identity that can be verified with the scan of a thumb or an eye. [...] Designed as a showcase of India’s technological prowess — offering identity proof to the poor and reducing waste in welfare programs — Aadhaar’s grand promises have been muddied by controversy as the government makes enrollment mandatory for a growing number of essential services. [...] Soon, as more private companies use the database, it could become difficult to open a bank account, get a new cellphone number or buy plane or train tickets without being enrolled."

Comment: This sounds like a privacy nightmare but it's certainly an interesting experiment in government mandated identity verification.  If India can make it work it will become an attractive option for many other countries.

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Rumors of War

North Korea military growing more powerful, survey shows - UPI.com
UPI reports: "North Korea's military manpower has been growing but remains well below South Korea, which ranked 11th in the world, according to an annual ranking of the world's armed forces. Global Firepower released its annual ranking of the world's armed forces on Wednesday, showing Seoul's army could easily overpower North Korea's People's Army in the event of a conflict."

Comment: I think that's a bit misleading. We are not worried about North Korea because we think they could win a conventional war. We are worried about them having nuclear weapons.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Rumors of War - Kings of the East

China tests new missile in waters near North Korea - UPI.com
UPI reports: "China tested a new missile in an area close to the Korean peninsula after warning South Korea against the deployment the U.S. missile defense system THAAD. [...] In its brief statement, the Chinese defense ministry stated the training was aimed at enhancing missile capability while preparing to effectively respond to 'national security threats.' Beijing is wary of North Korea's nuclear weapons program, but has also stayed strongly opposed to the deployment of THAAD in central South Korea."

Comment: It's always bluff and bluster until it's not. Let's hope China has firm command and control procedures and doesn't "accidentally" launch a missile against a THAAD site. 

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Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Persecution

Jakarta Gov. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama found guilty in Islam blasphemy trial - UPI.com
UPI reports: "An Indonesian court found the outgoing Chinese Christian governor of Jakarta guilty of blasphemy Tuesday and sentenced him to two years in prison. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, also known as Ahok, was accused of insulting Islam by referring to a verse in the Koran during a campaign speech last year. Ahok said candidates running against him were lying when they claimed the Koran says Muslims should not vote for non-Muslims to rule them."

Comment: I have to salute the bravery of this man for daring to be a public servant and run for office as a Christian in the world's most populous Muslim country. It was a test of legal pluralism vs. cultural intolerance...guess which won. 

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War

U.S. plans to directly arm Syria Kurds against Islamic State - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The United States plans to directly arm the Syrian Kurdish military, a Trump administration policy opposed by its Turkish NATO ally, officials said Tuesday. Two officials told NBC News that President Donald Trump has signed the order for the United States to provide the Syrian Kurds with arms and equipment."

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Monday, May 08, 2017

Covenant With Many

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, in Israel, commits to two-state solution - UPI.com:
UPI reports: "German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, visiting Israel, said a two-state solution is the only resolution to the conflict between Israel and Palestinians. 'There are no other solutions,' he said at a meeting Sunday with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. In a speech at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Steinmeier added, 'Only a two-state solution will give Israel a future as a Jewish democratic state.'"

Comment: I'm sure there must be other solutions. Have they looked?

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Saturday, May 06, 2017

False Christs

Some day my prince will come, say Vanuatu worshippers of mere mortal royal Philip | Reuters:
Reuters reports: "The retirement of Britain's Prince Philip from public life led world headlines on Thursday, but his most devout and remote followers have only just heard the news. A tribe in Vanuatu was shocked and dismayed to discover on Saturday that the man they pray to as the son of an ancestral local mountain god will likely never return to their Pacific Island home. The British royal, who said he would no longer take part in public engagements, alone or alongside his wife, Queen Elizabeth II, is part of the fabric of life in the village of Younanen on Tanna Island. Villagers pray to the 95-year-old prince daily, asking for his blessing on the banana and yam crops that make their primitive and extremely poor community self-sufficient."

Comment: I suppose that the multiculturalists will say that this is an expression of an indigenous culture and to be respected. I think it's just sad.  Someone needs to tell them that Prince Philip is not a god. I would lose a great deal of respect for the prince if he knew about this and did not personally correct their error.

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Friday, May 05, 2017

Wars & Rumors of War

U.S. service member killed, two injured in Somalia attack - UPI.com
UPI reports: "A U.S. service member died in an attack while advising troops in Somalia, U.S. Africa Command announced Friday. Two other U.S. military members were injured in the attack, CNN reported. The U.S. troops were advising members of the Somali national army, which is combating the al-Shabab terrorist organization in Barii about 40 miles west of the capital of Mogadishu when they came under small arms fire."

Comment: Ok, I found it, thought I'd missed it. Here it is: Memo to Americans, your military is now at war with a jihadist militia operating in Somalia (a country in Africa) and East Africa (a geographic region), expect more casualties. 

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Thursday, May 04, 2017

War - Doomed Damascus

Negotiators to create safe zones in northern Syria - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Diplomats from Russia, Turkey, Iran and Syria agreed Thursday to create four 'de-escalation' zones in war-torn Syria, though forces opposed to President Bashar al-Assad walked out on the deal. The proposal was put forth by the Russians and agreed to by Turkish leaders who are acting as a guarantor for a coalition of forces opposed to the Assad regime. The Syrian government, backed by Russia and Iran, agreed to the deal Thursday, but members of the opposition delegation walked out on the talks rather than sign their agreement [...] Creating cease-fire zones that confine opposition forces to territory already under their control could give the Assad government an advantage in fighting in other parts of the country, they said."

Comment: It's a nice idea that sounds like it might allow some humanitarian assistance to get into the country, but it's the kind of thing that will easily fracture and fall apart given the number of warring factions. 

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Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Covenant With Many

Donald Trump on Mideast peace: 'We will get this done' - UPI.com
UPI reports: "During a meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas at the White House on Wednesday, President Donald Trump vowed to find Middle East peace -- a permanent solution that's eluded U.S. administrations for decades. Trump, a staunch supporter of Israel, acknowledged the difficulties in resolving differences between the Jewish state and Muslim Palestinian authorities that date back to the mid-20th century, and which have resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths. [...] Trump has said he can live with either a one- or two-state resolution."

Comment: Strange that you can almost hear him thinking to himself, "finally, something that involves real estate!" Well, good luck to him, hope he doesn't drift into the pattern of his predecessors in thinking that the only way to peace is to extract yet more concessions from Israel. Perhaps if they ask the Palestinians to stop firing missiles at Israel? That would make for a nice start to the process.

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Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Earthquakes

Major earthquakes rock Alaska, Canada but no damage reported - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Parts of Alaska and Canada braced for more aftershocks after two major earthquakes rattled the region on Monday. The first earthquake with a magnitude of 6.2 struck about 60 miles northwest of Haines, Alaska, and was felt across hundreds of miles of southeast Alaska and northwest Canada. [...] The second, less than two hours later, registered a magnitude of 6.3 in nearly the same location, the Alaska Earthquake Center said. No damage was reported."

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Monday, May 01, 2017

Rumors or War - Kings of the East

Pakistan, India exchange gunfire in disputed Kashmir incident - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Pakistan on Monday rejected India's accusation that Pakistani troops killed two Indian security members and mutilated their bodies at the Kashmir Line of Control. The Indian army said a junior soldier and a Border Security Force officer were killed in an unprovoked shooting by Pakistan. Indian officials said the incident, in which both sides exchanged gunfire, occurred in the Poonch District between India and Pakistan. [...] India and Pakistan both contest the Kashmir Valley, which has led to two wars over control of the territory since independence from Britain in 1947."

Comment: I know we have been focused lately on North Korea, but the Kashmir border is another tripwire that could send the world spiraling into nuclear war.  It's always worth paying attention when India and Pakistan start shooting at each other.

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