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News Briefs for April 3, 2021

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Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)

Supreme Court Again Blocks California Covid Restrictions on Religious Activities

The Supreme Court by a 5-4 vote on Friday blocked yet another state’s Covid-19 restrictions on religious services, over protests from California officials that the limits affecting some Bible study sessions did not impinge on religious rights. The unsigned order for the high court majority also revealed the deep ideological fissure, with conservatives (including the three appointees of former President Donald Trump) in control and liberals dissenting bitterly. Chief Justice John Roberts also dissented, although he did not sign the statement by the three justices on the left, written by Justice Elena Kagan.

Judge Rules Christian Student Group Can Require its Leaders to Be Christians

A Christian student group at a college in Michigan will not be punished for requiring leaders in the group to agree to a statement of faith, a judge ruled Monday. The group, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Wayne State University, had initially had their official student club status revoked in October 2017 because of the requirement, The Christian Post reports. The college called the group’s policy for leadership positions “discriminatory.” Without official club recognition status, InterVarsity could not reserve meeting rooms for free or apply for certain campus funding. The group filed a lawsuit in March 2018 against WSU’s board of governors, board members and administrators. This week, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan Judge Robert H. Cleland ruled that the actions of the university “strike at the heart” of the First Amendment and are “obviously odious to the Constitution.”

Biden’s Budget Proposes 16 % Increase in Spending on His Domestic Priorities

The Biden administration is proposing a 16 percent increase in federal spending on domestic priorities including education, fighting climate change and reducing poverty as part of a $1.52 trillion funding request the White House sent to Congress on Friday. The request, which comes on top of President Biden’s plans to seek trillions of dollars in new infrastructure spending, is for the fiscal year beginning in October. It does not include tax proposals, economic projections or spending on so-called mandatory programs like Social Security, all of which will be included in a formal budget request the White House will release later this spring. But it lays out Mr. Biden’s priorities and shows his willingness to use the power — and purse-strings — of the federal government to reverse what officials called a decade of underinvestment by the government in the nation’s most pressing domestic problems.

  • The rapidly rising federal debt will now rise even faster until it implodes and causes economic disaster.

Biden Announces Gun Control Executive/Legislative Actions, Cites ‘Public Health Crisis’

President Biden on Thursday announced a set of executive actions and legislative proposals on gun control, saying that gun violence is “a public health crisis” and the administration’s actions do not contravene Second Amendment rights. “Nothing I’m about to recommend in any way impinges on the Second Amendment,” Biden said. “These are phony arguments suggesting that these are Second Amendment rights at stake from what we’re talking about.” Biden also declared that “no amendment is absolute.”

  • Apparently he believes the Constitution can be twisted to be anything he wants it to be. And Biden ignores the impact of the ‘defund-the-police’ movement on the rise of ‘gun violence’.
  • Biden is asking the Justice Department (DOJ) to propose within a month a rule to stop “ghost guns,” which are “kits” people can buy legally to assemble a functioning firearm that does not have a serial number. Biden is also asking the DOJ to propose within 60 days a rule on braces used for handguns, which make them more accurate; to propose action on “community violence intervention”; to publish suggestions for “red flag” legislation; and is asking his administration to issue a report on gun trafficking. In addition, Biden called on the Senate to “immediately pass three House-passed bills to close loopholes that allow gun purchases, purchasers, to bypass the background checks.”

Gun Rights Groups Say Biden’s Gun Orders Are Tyrannical

One of the largest gun rights groups in the country said it is preparing to fight a slew of executive actions from the Biden administration, claiming they’re “tyrannical” and that they will “spare no expense” in defeating them. “Gun Owners of America is wholeheartedly opposed to the unconstitutional gun control threatened today by President Biden—restrictions such as the attacks on homemade and brace equipped firearms and so-called ‘Red Flag’ Gun Confiscation Orders,” GOA said. GOA’s statement suggested that Biden’s executive action would indeed violate the Constitution and are not “phony arguments.” The National Rifle Association stipulated that Biden’s “actions could require Americans to surrender lawful property and push states to expand confiscation orders.”

  • Ultimately, it will be up to the Supreme Court to determine the constitutionality.

Arizona’s Governor Signs Bill Protecting State Gun Laws from Federal Legislation

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a gun rights law this week that preemptively protects gun owners in the state from any federal gun control laws that are passed. The Second Amendment Freedom Act was signed two days before President Biden announced several executive gun control actions. The bill doesn’t change any current state laws. State Rep. Leo Biasiucci, a Republican who sponsored the bill, said, “If the federal government does anything that tries to infringe on our Second Amendment in the state of Arizona, we’re not going to comply.”

110 Million Now Vaccinated in U.S. but States Ordering Falls Short & 40% of Marines Say No Thanks

The number of people in the U.S. who have now received at least one dose of vaccine is now over 110 million, representing 41% of the eligible population and 33% of the total population. But hundreds of thousands of coronavirus vaccine doses are going unordered by states, spurring calls for a new allocation approach. States have different explanations for not ordering their full allocations each week, including difficulty matching first and second doses. But experts say nothing should be left on the shelves amid outbreaks, putting pressure on the White House to make the most of an expanding supply while avoiding the appearance of favoring some states over others. In addition, nearly 40% of U.S. Marines are declining Covid-19 vaccinations, the first military branch to disclose service-wide numbers on acceptance and declination. About 48,000 Marines have chosen not to receive vaccines.

Women and People Under 40 Suffer Most Vaccine Side Effects, Moderna More than Pfizer

Women and people under 40 years old are more likely to experience side effects from COVID-19 vaccines, an expert told The Post on Friday. “Women and younger people have more local reactions — a sore arm, a day of not feeling so well, or aches and pains,” according to Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases expert from Vanderbilt University. More people who received the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine reported side effects than recipients of the Pfizer shot, according to a recent study for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released in the online journal JAMA. Almost 70% of those who received the Moderna vaccine said they experienced an adverse reaction at the injection site such as pain or swelling, while about half reported side effects like chills or fatigue. About 74% of Moderna recipients reported an adverse reaction following a single dose, with 82% reporting side effects after the second dose, compared to 65% of Pfizer recipients after the first dose and 68% after the second.

European Union: COVID-19 Vaccine has ‘Clear Association’ with Brain Blood Clots

Germany, France, Italy, Spain and other nations have suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine over concerns it is linked to blood clots. The manufacturer denies any link, but an official with with the European Union’s agency in charge of evaluating medicines believes there is a “clear association” between the two. Marco Cavaleri, the chairman of the the European Medicines Agency team evaluating the vaccine, said that in his opinion, “we can now say it, it is clear that there is an association (of the brain blood clots) with the vaccine.”

Johnson & Johnson Unable to Meet Orders Due to Loss of 15 Million Doses

Vaccine maker Johnson & Johnson will not be able to deliver 24 million doses by the end of April as the company had previously promised. Fifteen million doses had to be scrapped due to contamination in a subcontractor facility. Next week, the government will supply only 700,000, rather than 5 million, doses of its single-shot vaccine. To date, the J&J vaccine has contributed far less to the climbing U.S. vaccination rate than have the mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

Covid-19 Cases in U.S. Rising Again, Daily Deaths Keep Dropping

There has been a 12% increase in the daily number of new Covid-19 cases in the U.S. over the past two weeks. The seven-day average is now around 68,000 new cases per day. The daily number of deaths, though, continues to decline, down 25% over the past two weeks. Hospitalizations, however, are up 7%. Cases continue to soar in five states (New York, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey) who account for 43% of all new U.S. cases. Michigan is averaging more than 6,600 cases a day over a week now against 1,350 daily cases five weeks ago. Many other states (like Arizona) are experiencing slight but continued increases in new cases.

UK Variant Now the Most Dominant Strain in U.S.

The coronavirus variant first identified in the United Kingdom is now the most common strain of coronavirus in the United States, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday. Studies have suggested that the UK variant is more contagious than the original strain, is possibly more dangerous and associated with a higher risk of death.

UK Variant Causing Covid Resurgence in Europe

The highly contagious UK B.1.1.7 variant has fueled an alarming rise in Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations in parts of Europe. The difference between previous surges and another possible surge now is the people most affected now are the younger individuals. “We have to think about the B.1.1.7 variant as almost a brand new virus,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. “It’s acting differently from anything we’ve seen before, in terms of transmissibility, in terms of affecting young people, so we have to take this very seriously.” The people who are now getting hospitalized by large numbers are people in their 30s and 40s.

Iran Declares New Lockdown over Fourth Wave of Covid-19

Iran on Saturday began a 10-day lockdown amid a fourth wave of coronavirus infections, state TV reported, a worrisome trend after more than a year of the country battling the Middle East’s worst outbreak. Iran’s coronavirus task force, charged with determining virus restrictions, ordered most shops closed and offices restricted to one-third capacity in cities declared as “red-zones.” The capital Tehran and 250 other cities and towns across the country have been declared red zones. They have the highest virus positivity rates and the most severe restrictions in place. Over 85% of the country now has either a red or orange infection status, authorities said.

Brazil Covid Cases/Deaths Surging with No End in Sight

An already bad COVID situation is worsening in Brazil, which on Tuesday reported it blew past the 4,000-death mark for the first time, reporting 4,195 deaths in the past 24 hours. “If Brazil keeps the current pace, the country will probably reach 5,000 daily deaths in April,” a researcher at Brazilian health institute Fiocruz said. (The U.S. one-day peak was 4,476, and our population is about one-third bigger). President Jair Bolsonaro remained staunchly against imposing any quarantine measures, which he says would cause economic hurt worse than that of the virus. Epidemiologist Ethel Maciel says that “at the rate we’re vaccinating”—an estimated 8% to 9% of Brazilians have gotten at least one shot—”the only way to slow the extremely fast spread of the virus is an effective lockdown for at least 20 days.”

One-Third of Covid Survivors Left With Neurological Symptoms Months Later

A major study published Tuesday suggests as many as one in three people infected with Covid-19 are left with longer term mental health or neurological symptoms. Researchers found that 34% of coronavirus survivors received a diagnosis for a neurological or psychological condition within six months of infection, according to the research published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry. The most common diagnosis was anxiety, found in 17% of those treated for Covid-19, followed by mood disorders, found in 14% of patients. “Our results indicate that brain diseases and psychiatric disorders are more common after Covid-19 than after flu or other respiratory infections, even when patients are matched for other risk factors,” said Maxime Taquet.

Disinfectant Probably Isn’t Needed, CDC Says Due to Low Transmission Probability

The run on Lysol and other disinfectants may finally be over. Disinfection to reduce transmission of COVID-19 at home is probably not needed unless someone in your home is sick or if someone who is positive for COVID-19 has been in your home within 24 hours, the CDC says in new guidance. There is a less than a 1-in-10,000 chance of catching COVID-19 from surfaces, according to a Monday update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Cleaning with a household cleaner that contains soap or detergent reduces the amount of germs on surfaces and, in most situations, removes most virus particles on surfaces, the CDC  says.

More States/Countries Moving Toward Vaccine Passports

Starting next week, California will require that large groups can only meet if they demand participants show COVID vaccine passports or a recent negative test. This started in New York, then spread to Nevada and Hawaii. Now every state is under pressure from the Biden-Harris administration to enact vaccine passports, preferably digital. Your right to travel, shop, dine or attend public events is threatened by these digital vaccine passports.” Twenty-one nations have enacted vaccine passports or have announced specific plans to do so. In addition, 29 airlines or representative parent companies are testing the “Travel Pass Initiative” to launch this spring. Also, 22 cruise line companies are mandating that their passengers receive a COVID vaccine before boarding their ships.

  • “This is the high-tech equivalent of the Nazi demand of ‘Papers, please,’” writes Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel.

Texas Bans COVID-19 Vaccine Passports

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order barring so-called “vaccine passports” that would require Texans to show proof of vaccination before using a service or making a purchase. Abbott’s move follows a similar order issued by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, who cited privacy concerns as a reason for doing so. According to Abbott, the order exempts nursing homes and long-term care facilities. So-called “vaccine passport” systems have been proposed in several countries and some airlines have floated the idea. New York state started rolling out its “Excelsior” system that would require New Yorkers to show proof of vaccination at major events, although it is reportedly plagued by errors.

Immigrant Surge at Border Continues to Accelerate

Border officials encountered 172,000 migrants at the border in March, a 71% increase from February and the latest indicator of the extent of the crisis at the southern border. Of the 172,000 migrants encountered, the majority were single adults, and included 18,890 unaccompanied children — a 100% increase from the already high numbers encountered in February, and the highest number on record. While single adults and family units can be returned via Title 42 public health protections, the administration has not been applying it to unaccompanied children. Meanwhile, Mexico has been refusing to take back family units with children under the age of seven. In March, 103,900 individuals were expelled under Title 42, representing 60% of total encounters. However, many migrants are released directly into the interior. U.S., even as pictures have emerged of packed facilities for migrant children.

  • President Biden last month downplayed the surge in migrants coming to the southern border, saying surges happen “every year” — but while that is the case, the numbers released Thursday show that the current surge is dwarfing anything in recent memory.

Biden Administration Spending $60M per Week to Shelter Unaccompanied Minors

The Biden administration appears to be spending at least $60 million per week to care for the more than 16,000 migrant teenagers and children in shelters operated by Health and Human Services, and those costs are expected to rise significantly over the coming months, according to an analysis of government data obtained by The Washington Post. With a record number of unaccompanied minors arriving at the border over the last several weeks, HHS quickly filled the beds in its network of permanent shelters, where capacity has been reduced by covid protocols. The administration has raced to set up at least 10 large emergency facilities in convention centers, converted oil worker camps and military bases.

1,370 Children in San Antonio Expo Center where Child Abuse Allegations have Surfaced

On March 29, 500 male children between the ages of 13 and 17 were taken to the Freeman Expo Center in San Antonio. As of Monday, that number had skyrocketed to 1,370. Meanwhile, Gov. Greg Abbott is calling on President Biden to shut down the facility after the Department of Health and Human Services and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services received complaints of child abuse taking place there. Abbott said this included allegations of sexual assault, a failure to separate children infected with COVID-19 from others, children not eating, and an insufficient number of staffers.

  • Meanwhile, VP Kamala Harris has gone 17 days without a news conference since being tapped as the point person for the border crisis.

NY Sets Aside $2.1 Billion Coronavirus Relief for Undocumented Immigrants

New York lawmakers struck a deal this week to establish a $2.1 billion coronavirus relief fund for undocumented immigrants and other unemployed workers who were ineligible for federal aid during the pandemic. The fund, which was announced as part of a broader $212 billion state budget agreement, will offer one-time payments of up to $15,600 to undocumented immigrants who lost their jobs during the virus-induced crisis. In order to qualify for the money, individuals must prove they are New York residents who were ineligible for unemployment benefits and stimulus checks due to their immigration status. They will also need to demonstrate that they lost income during the pandemic. Other illegal immigrants who are unable to show the same level of verification will be eligible to receive $3,200 – the same amount that many Americans received from the three stimulus checks approved by Congress this year and last.

Supreme Court Justice Thomas Suggests Big Tech be Regulated Like Utilities

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas signaled that Big Tech firms could be regulated like utilities in a 23-page opinion to the Supreme Court’s rejection of a lawsuit over Trump’s blocking of certain Twitter users from commenting on his posts before his account was taken down. “Today’s digital platforms provide avenues for historically unprecedented amounts of speech, including speech by government actors. Also unprecedented, however, is control of so much speech in the hands of a few private parties,” Thomas wrote Monday. Thomas wrote that modern technology isn’t easily addressed by existing laws and regulations. He warned that the Supreme Court may “soon have no choice but to address how our legal doctrines apply to highly concentrated, privately owned information infrastructure such as digital platforms.”

YouTube Purges Anti-Mask Video with Health Experts on COVID-19

YouTube has purged a video of a panel discussion hosted by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis with health experts from Oxford, Harvard and Stanford whose advice informed his decision to ease COVID-19 restrictions last year. The Google-owned video platform didn’t like the fact that the experts thought children didn’t need to wear masks. A YouTube representative said the position on masks violated YouTube’s “COVID-19 medical misinformation” policies. The panel members at the forum in March were former White House coronvirus adviser Dr. Scott Atlas of Stanford University, Oxford epidemiologist Dr. Sunetra Gupta, Harvard professor Dr. Martin Kulldorff and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford.

  • This is outright censorship. Apparently, ‘follow the science’ only applies to science YouTube agrees with.

Economic News

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week to 744,000 from 728,000 the previous week, signaling that many employers are still cutting jobs. Jobless claims have declined sharply since the virus slammed into the economy in March of last year. But they remain high by historical standards: Before the pandemic erupted, weekly applications typically remained below 220,000 a week.

For the week ending March 27, 3.7 million people were receiving traditional state unemployment benefits. If you include supplemental federal programs that were established last year to help the unemployed endure the health crisis, a total of 18.2 million are receiving some form of jobless aid the week of March 20.

$5 billion in stimulus funds have been tabbed ​for reducing homelessness in the U.S. The Biden Administration aims to get 130,000 people off the streets and into a shelter of some sort. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia L. Fudge said in an announcement that the money, allocated under the $1.9 trillion stimulus package, could be used for rental assistance, affordable housing development and sheltering people in hotels.

Homeowners across the U.S. saw their property tax bill get significantly more expensive last year. Total property taxes levied on single-family homes in 2020 were $323 billion, up 5.4% from the year before, the biggest average increase in four years. The average property tax for a single-family home was $3,719, up 4.4% from $3,561 in 2019.

The S&P 500 stock index hit another all-time high Wednesday. The S&P 500 index tracks the largest 500 companies. Smaller companies are not faring as well during the pandemic.

U.S. and Iran Began Indirect Nuclear Talks in Vienna

Efforts to bring the United States back into the 2015 deal on Iran’s nuclear program stepped up a gear Tuesday as Iran and the five world powers still in the accord met in Vienna while the United States is due to start indirect talks with Tehran. Following the closed meetings of the signatories to the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Russia’s delegate, Mikhail Ulyanov, tweeted that the initial talks were successful. “The restoration of JCPOA will not happen immediately. It will take some time,” he wrote. At the meeting, participants agreed to establish two expert-level groups, one on the lifting of sanctions and one on nuclear issues, which were “tasked to identify concrete measures to be taken by Washington and Tehran to restore full implementation of JCPOA,” Ulyanov tweeted. Through intermediaries, Iran agreed to join the U.S. in working with the two working groups.

Jordan Foiled ‘Malicious Plot’ Against King Abdullah, Prince Arrested

A senior Jordanian official on Sunday accused the country’s former crown prince of conspiring with foreign elements in a “malicious plot” that threatened national security. Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi told reporters that the plot had been foiled at the “zero hour.” “Then it was clear they moved from design and planning into action,” Safadi said. He says some 14-16 people are under arrest. Safadi spoke a day after Prince Hamzah, a half-brother of King Abdullah II, was placed under house arrest, in a rare public clash between top members of the long-ruling family. The unprecedented incident has raised concerns about stability in a country seen as a key Western ally in a volatile region. The former ‘crown prince’ has pledged support for the King and was subsequently released from house arrest.

Netanyahu Chosen to Form Israel’s Next Government

After President Reuven Rivlin held a round of consultations on Monday with all parties elected to the 24th Knesset, he announced early Tuesday afternoon that he had selected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form a new government. At the end of the round of consultations, 52 Members of Knesset (MK) nominated the prime minister and Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu. Forty-five MKs recommended head of Yesh Atid Yair Lapid and seven MKs nominated chair of Yamina Naftali Bennet.

Republicans Delay Renewal of U.S. Aid to Palestinians

Two Republicans have thrown a roadblock in front of the $75 million the Biden Administration wants to give to the Palestinian Authority, saying there must be a quid pro quo from the Palestinians, the Jerusalem Post reported Thursday.      Fulfilling a campaign promise, Biden’s team in the past two weeks announced a series of foreign aid grants to the Palestinians totaling almost $300 million. Senator Jim Risch of Idaho, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, the lead Republican of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, used their authority to temporarily block $75 million that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) had allocated for the Palestinian Authority. The two called out the Biden Administration for not ensuring that the Palestinians are complying with U.S. anti-terror legislation that conditions the transfer of funds to the Palestinians on not using it for endorsing terrorism. “The PA is spending millions annually to compensate terrorists while the international community pays for the well-being of the Palestinian people,” they said.

Militants Attack, and 1.8K Prisoners Escape in Nigeria

Militants armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades launched a series of coordinated attacks overnight in southeastern Nigeria, targeting a prison where more than 1,800 inmates then managed to escape, authorities said Monday. The attacks began around 2am in the town of Owerri in Imo state and lasted for about two hours, according to local resident Uche Okafor. Gunmen also assaulted various other police and military buildings. Anti-government separatists have been active in that part of the country for some time. The coordinated attacks come less than two weeks after another wave of violence in southeastern Nigeria, when at least a dozen security officers were killed during attacks on four police stations, military checkpoints and prison vehicles.

Ten Killed In Suicide Bomb Attack In Somali Capital

At least 10 people were killed on Saturday when a suicide bomber struck makeshift kiosks in the Somali capital, hitting hours after al Shabaab Islamist militants attacked two National Army bases outside the city, the government said. “A suicide bomber blew up himself under trees where poor mothers sold tea, milk and (narcotic leaf) khat,” Information Ministry spokesman Ismail Mukhtar Omar told Reuters, adding that more people were wounded in the attack. There was no immediate comment from the al Shabaab, which had earlier claimed responsibility for the attacks on the Bariire and Awdhigle army bases.

Environment: Earth’s Carbon Dioxide Levels Highest in Over 3 Million Years

The level of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere is now higher than it has been in at least 3.6 million years, federal scientists announced Wednesday. At that time, sea levels were as much as 78 feet higher, the average temperature was 7 degrees Fahrenheit higher than in pre-industrial times, Greenland was mostly green, and Antarctica had trees. Overall, levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane – the two most important greenhouse gases – continued their unrelenting rise in 2020 despite the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic, according to scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas releases greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane has caused the temperature of Earth’s atmosphere to rise to levels that cannot be explained by natural causes, the scientists say.

  • End-time weather will continue to grow more extreme (Daniel 9:26b, Ezekiel 38:22, Luke 21:25, Revelation 8:7, 11:19, 16:8,11)

Environment: Wastewater Pond Threatens Neighborhood with 20-Foot Wall of Polluted Waters

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency Saturday after a significant leak at a large pond of wastewater threatened to flood roads with a 20-foot wall of polluted waters. Officials in Florida evacuated homes and closed off a highway Saturday near the large reservoir in the Tampa Bay area north of Bradenton. Residents who live a mile north and a half-mile south of the pond received an alert via text saying to leave the area immediately because the collapse was “imminent.” The Florida Department of Environmental Protection said a break was detected Friday in one of the walls of a 77-acre pond that has a depth of 25 feet and holds millions of gallons of water containing phosphorus and nitrogen from an old phosphate plant.

  • Officials hope that pumping more than 30 million gallons of wastewater out of the reservoir into the Tampa Bay ecosystem will relieve pressure on the walls and reduce the chance of an uncontrolled major breach. Of course, that will increase pollution levels in the bay. With pumps still belching out millions of gallons of wastewater, Manatee County officials have approved a plan they hope will be a permanent solution to the Piney Point phosphate ponds that forced evacuations over catastrophic failure fears. The wastewater remaining in the three retention ponds at Piney Point would be treated and pumped deep into the underground Floridan Aquifer.


At least seven people are dead after a strong earthquake rattled Indonesia’s main island of Java. At least two other people were seriously injured. More than 300 houses sustained damage from mild to severe. The magnitude 6.0 earthquake struck off of Java’s southern coast at 2 p.m. local time Saturday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It was centered about 27 miles south of Gongdanglegi Kulon in East Java province, at a depth of 51 miles.

An explosive eruption rocked La Soufrière volcano Thursday on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent less than a day after volcanologists warned of the potential of such a disaster and as island officials rushed to evacuate the thousands of people most at risk. The eruption shot a plume of ash nearly 5 miles into the sky. Ashfall reached the country’s airport on the opposite end of the island nation. A second eruption occurred Friday. There were no immediate reports of injuries or deaths. Authorities urged those living in the so-called “red zone” closest to the volcano to “leave immediately.” Cots, tents, and respirator masks poured into the eastern island on Saturday for the thousands of people who evacuated their homes under government orders.

A 4.0 magnitude earthquake jolted the Lennox area of Los Angeles County early Monday morning, according to the United States Geological Survey. Lennox is an unincorporated area just a few miles east of Los Angeles International Airport. There were no immediate reports of damage.


A lightning-caused fire that began on Friday about 60 miles east of Yuma burned more than 2,100 acres and was 50%contained as of Sunday evening, according to fire officials. The Gila Fire began at about 7:15 a.m. April 2 along the Gila River bottom just north of Interstate 8 in Dateland, the Bureau of Land Management said in an update on Inciweb. As of about 7 p.m. Sunday it was measured at 2,130 acres. No structures in the area were threatened as of Sunday, however, some powerlines were, the bureau said.


Torrential rain from a tropical system has caused landslides and flooding that has left 113 people dead and dozens more missing in Indonesia and neighboring East Timor. At least 70 people died in Indonesia and 21 died in East Timor over last weekend. Early Monday, the system strengthened into Tropical Cyclone Seroja in the Savu Sea off of Kupang in Indonesia’s East Nusa Tenggara province. It was moving southwest well off the northwest Australia coast.

Severe weather tore through the South on Friday, felling trees, flooding rivers and threatening homes as the system moved east. The community of Orange Beach, Ala. saw their car windshields shattered by hail the size of baseballs, and quarter-sized hail pelted Texas’s Dallas-Fort Worth area. WJTV confirmed that a tornado touched down in Rankin County, Mississippi. Nearby, trees and powerlines fell on a mobile home and vehicle at Lake Harbor and in neighboring Louisiana. At least one person is dead and seven injured in Lousiana after severe weather ripped across the South Friday. Six homes and six trailers were destroyed. The area was hit by multiple rounds of storms that went on to damage other parts of the state as well. Buildings were damaged in an eastern Tennessee town during severe weather late Thursday afternoon. A tornado passed through Pleasant Hill, Tennessee, shortly after 4 p.m. The storm produced a tornado that was rated EF0 intensity with winds of 80 mph. A school, community center and a nursing home were damaged.


This news brief contributed by Pastor John Jacobsen, author of a number of exciting Christian fiction novels about the End Times (see and  You can contact him on Facebook or purchase his books at at: