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News Briefs for July 4, 2020

Past Issues of News Briefs at lofj.wordpress.com

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

Declaration of Independence Also Declares Dependence on God

The Declaration of Independence states: “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them… We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness… with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

  • As God is being systematically removed from the social fabric, America is not surprisingly coming apart at the seams.

California Bans Singing in Church

Californians are still free to attend their house of worship, but they’re forbidden from singing or chanting. Updated COVID-19 guidelines issued Wednesday by the state Department of Public Health require churches and other houses of worship to “discontinue singing and chanting activities.” In previously allowing religious organizations to reopen in late May, the state merely said these institutions should “strongly consider discontinuing singing, group recitation, and other practices and performances.”

Christians Face ‘Genocide’ in Nigeria, Africa’s Largest Nation

Muslim factions in Nigeria are carrying out a genocidal “bloodbath” in Africa’s largest nation that is alarming “those of us who track religious freedom violations,” writes Lela Gilbert, a fellow at the Hudson Institute. “We know what happened in Rwanda. We saw what ISIS did in Iraq. And in recent decades, tens of thousands of Nigerians have been slaughtered. Yet their stories rarely appear in mainstream Western news reports, while virtually nothing is being done to stop the violence,” wrote Gilbert, who works with the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom and also the Center for Islam, Democracy and the Future of the Muslim World. Gilbert explained that two Muslim factions largely are responsible for the violence, the terrorist group Boko Haram and the so-called Fulani herdsmen.

Strong Independence Day Message from President Trump

President Donald Trump delivered a firm Independence Day eve vow to protect America and Mount Rushmore from “a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children… “I am here as your President to proclaim before the country and before the world: This monument will never be desecrated, these heroes will never be defaced, their legacy will never, ever be destroyed, their achievements will never be forgotten, and Mount Rushmore will stand forever as an eternal tribute to our forefathers and to our freedom.” President Trump said “cancel culture” mobs are miscalculating Americans as “weak and submissive,” but he said to cheers from over 7,500 onlookers, “Americans are strong and proud.”

  • Critics argue that Trump’s speech ignores past and systemic racism and incites further divisiveness.

150 Charged with Arson, Murder & Destruction of Property

Federal prosecutors have brought charges – including arson and murder – in 150 cases connected to recent protests and rioting. Many of the cases are “related to the destruction of federal property,” D.C. prosecutor Michael Sherwin said. At least 17 people have died as a result of the riots. Sherwin said the Department of Justice has also helped local prosecutors with “hundreds” of cases such as assault and battery and theft. Sherwin said the majority are individuals who self-identify with the fringe organizations. Sherwin said the DOJ is working to identify the “command and control” of the groups and that the “whole architecture” has not been determined.

WHO Admits: China Never Warned About Coronavirus Outbreak

The World Health Organization has finally walked back its claim that it had received a warning about coronavirus from the Chinese government,  giving support to accusations that the organization is China’s puppet. The WHO recently revised its “Timeline of WHO’s response to COVID-19” on Tuesday after Republicans in the House Foreign Affairs Committee released its Interim Report on Origins of COVID-19 Pandemic. It concluded “despite public reporting to the contrary … China never notified the WHO about the outbreak in Wuhan.” According to the report, the WHO learned about the coronavirus outbreak following reports from Chinese media that there was an abnormal pneumonia pandemic and the information made its way online.

Covid-19 Cases Continue to Rise

Heading into the Fourth of July holiday weekend, the U.S. recorded 52,291 new cases of the coronavirus Thursday, surpassing Wednesday’s record of 50,655. It’s the largest single-day total in the U.S. since the pandemic began six months ago, as the infection curve rose in 40 of the 50 states this past week. The U.S. Surgeon General, Jerome Adams, said the death rate has remained flat amid the surge in infections, but “deaths lag at least two weeks and can lag even more” behind the reported Covid-19 infections.

  • Florida’s confirmed coronavirus cases rose by a record 11,458 on Saturday, the state’s health department said, the second time in three days that its caseload increased by more than 10,000. The new record came a day after seven other states also reported record rises in cases of COVID-19. Florida’s record rise in cases was more than any European country’s daily peak at the height of the outbreak there.
  • The number of people in Arizona’s hospitals and in ICU beds again broke records Friday. The number of COVID-19 patients seen in the emergency room skyrocketed to 1,847 on Thursday but was down on Friday to 1,443. The number of ventilators in use by COVID-19 patients decreased from a Thursday record of 489 to 413.
  • About 8,300 more people died of heart problems during the first three months of the pandemic than would have died in a typical spring, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal data from 5 hard-hit states.

Two Texas County Hospitals at Full Capacity, Judges Say Shelter in Place

Hospitals in at least two Texas counties are at full capacity heading into the Fourth of July holiday weekend, with county judges urging residents to shelter in place. Judges in Starr and Hidalgo counties sent out emergency alerts Friday, warning residents that local hospitals in the Rio Grande Valley were at capacity and that residents should shelter-in-place to reduce new cases. Earlier last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday ordered face coverings must be worn in public across most of the state, a dramatic ramp up of the Republican’s efforts to control spiking numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. Violators can be fined up to $250. There are exceptions for people who have a medical condition or disability, who are exercising outdoors, or who are participating in a religious service or voting.

False Positives Inflating Covid-19 Numbers, By at Least 33,000 in Florida

A recent exposé by the Telegraph shows that at least 350,000 tests in the UK had been double or triple counted making the COVID infection rate appear grossly larger than the reality. The same is happening in the U.S. The over-reporting is due in part is caused by the high number of false positives occurring in COVID testing. In Florida, Advent Health, which is the state’s largest hospital conglomerate and operator of walk-in clinics, recently reported 33,000 false COVID tests, reports Liberty Counsel.

  • No test is perfect, so what is the false positive rate for Covid-19 tests? Nary a mention of that in the mainstream media. An online search didn’t turn up anything either. Perhaps it’s not yet known, but it should be – and it should be reported.

Digital Health Certificate Apps Have Arrived

The new “COVI-Pass” app which tracks your vaccination status along with your every move is now in use in 15 countries, including the United States. Certified by the United Nations and marketed as “Health Authenticated,” COVI-Pass tracks and reports everything from your health records, to your employment information, to your banking and your money, reports Liberty Counsel. According to the COVI-Pass website, the app “allows any user to gain information instantaneously on the move in both online and offline environments.” And the app is remotely scannable from up to three meters (nearly nine feet) away.

  • Another step toward the ‘mark of the beast’ as described in Revelation 13:16-7 & 14:9-11

Subpoenas Issued to 8 New Yorkers Who Avoided Contact Tracers

Health officials in one New York County issued subpoenas to eight people after they refused to cooperate in the contact tracing of the coronavirus cluster tied to a party. It worked: All eight partygoers responded to the subpoenas, avoiding possible fines of $2,000 per day from Rockland County, the first known county in the state to resort to legal action amid this public health emergency. The party in mid-June was hosted by someone who was sick with coronavirus at the time, Rockland County Executive Ed Day told USA TODAY on Thursday. The host was symptomatic but held the party anyway, which included 50 to 100 young adults, Day said.

Research/Autopsies Helping to Understand Covid-19

Autopsies have long been a source of breakthroughs in understanding new diseases. Now, autopsies of 38 brains, 87 lungs and 42 hearts of Covid-19 victims have confirmed that the virus does attack the lungs with the most ferocity. Among the most important findings, consistent across several studies, is confirmation that the virus does attack the lungs the most ferociously. Researchers also found the pathogen in parts of the brain, kidneys, liver, gastrointestinal tract and spleen and in the endothelial cells that line blood vessels. There was also widespread clotting in many organs. Given widespread reports about neurological symptoms related to the coronavirus, researchers expected to find virus and/or inflammation in the brain. But there was very little. In addition, many physicians warned for months about a cardiac complication they suspected was myocarditis, an inflammation or hardening of the heart muscle walls, but autopsy investigators were stunned that they could find no evidence of that condition.

  • Breakthrough research may provide a key piece of the COVID-19 puzzle that answers why patients sickened with the disease often suffer from life-threatening blood clots. According to their studies, the virus causes inflammation in the blood platelets, which contributes to clotting in some patients. Scientists from University of Utah Health found that inflammatory proteins produced during infection made the platelets “hyperactive.”

U.S. Buys Up World Stock of Remdesivir

Virtually all the supply of remdesivir for the next three months has been bought up by the U.S. The drug, used to treat COVID-19, is made by Gilead. And according to The Guardian newspaper, the U.S. has now bought more than 500,000 doses, which is all of the company’s production for July and 90% of August and September. The UK newspaper noted that the Trump administration has shown it is prepared to outbid all other nations to secure medical supplies needed in the U.S. The initial 140,000 doses of the drug had been supplied for drug trials around the world, but have since been used up.

Covid-19 Parties in Alabama Awards Prize to First One Infected

Some young people in Alabama are throwing Covid-19 parties, a disturbing competition where people who have coronavirus attend and the first person to get infected receives a payout. The parties are being held in Tuscaloosa, and infected people are urged to attend so others can intentionally contract the virus. The first person confirmed by a doctor to have coronavirus after the exposure wins the money made off the sale of tickets to attend the party.

Seattle Police Clear Out the CHOP Zone

Police in Seattle converged on the city’s protest zone early Wednesday, making arrests and sweeping through streets that demonstrators had occupied for weeks to protest police brutality and systemic racism. Mayor Jenny Durkan issued an executive order for protesters to vacate the area, and police said they were in the area Wednesday to enforce the order. The decision to clear the area, known as the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest or CHOP, comes after a string of violence in the area. At least two fatal shootings occurred in the CHOP in recent weeks, and police say other shootings, robberies and violence have occurred since protesters first took over the area after police abandoned their East Precinct nearby.

Memphis Police Clear Downtown Plaza

Memphis police showed up at Civic Center Plaza outside City Hall Wednesday morning around 6 a.m. local time to remove protesters who had been camped out for the past two weeks. The city said the move was necessary to allow for renovation of the building’s roof and exterior, and after a standoff, about nine demonstrators were led away in handcuffs. The demonstrators appeared not to resist the police officers as they were placed one-by-one into police vehicles, and the police appeared not to use hand strikes, tear gas, pepper spray, batons or similar use of force.

Seattle Driver Plows Through Protest Crowd

A vehicle plowed through a protest-related closure on a Seattle freeway Friday, striking multiple protesters, including two women who suffered serious injuries. State troopers and officers from the Bellingham Police Department chased the vehicle as it fled, and nabbed the suspect. The unidentified suspect — a 27-year-old man from Seattle — was booked in the Whatcom County Jail. Police said he is the same person who eluded officers in another incident two weeks ago.

Morale Among Police Officers is Plummeting

Police officers are feeling “abandoned”, “betrayed” and their stress levels are “going through the roof” as protests and calls to defund departments persist across the U.S., say organizations that advocate for cops’ safety and well-being. The turbulent daily climate – sparked by a series of police-involved deaths in recent months – comes as cops on duty are also trying to protect themselves from the coronavirus, which is the leading cause of death amongst law enforcement this year, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page. “We are seeing the stress levels of law enforcement going through the roof,” said Randy Sutton, a former Las Vegas police lieutenant who now leads The Wounded Blue, an organization that helps injured and disabled officers. “There has never been an atmosphere of hate, distrust, having their own political leadership turn against them, the calls for defunding, the calls for dismantling — they are feeling more under siege now than I think any time in history.”

RV Rentals Rise as Americans Seek Isolated Vacations

Summer vacations look very different this year as many Americans avoid flying, taking cruises and staying at hotels. And while many people are canceling travel plans entirely, others battling cabin fever are renting RVs in unprecedented numbers. The peer-to-peer vehicle rental company RVshare says that RV bookings have increased by more than 1,600% since early April. People feel safer taking an RV because they can control their environment, unlike air travel, cruises and hotels, experts say.

Massachusetts Town Officially Recognized Polyamorous Domestic Partnerships

A Massachusetts city northwest of Boston is believed to be the first in the nation to adopt an ordinance recognizing polyamory. Somerville adopted a domestic partnership policy including polyamorous couples after a unanimous vote of the city council last week, reported the Somerville Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network. Polyamory is the practice of having multiple intimate relationships with the full knowledge and consent of everyone involved, according to Psychology Today. The city’s law defines a domestic partnership as an “entity formed by people” instead of an “entity formed by two persons.” It also replaces “he and she” with “they,” and replaces “both” with “all.”

Economic News

The U.S. economy added a record 4.8 million jobs in June as states continued to allow businesses shuttered by the coronavirus to reopen and more Americans went back to work, even as massive layoffs have persisted. The unemployment rate fell to 11.1% from 13.3% in May, the Labor Department said Thursday. About 60% of unemployed workers were on temporary layoff, down from 73% in May. At the same time, 2.9 million people had permanently lost jobs in June, up from 2.3 million the prior month, in a sign more employers are cutting ties with workers. After two months of rampant growth, the American economy is still down nearly 14.7 million jobs since February.

About 1.43 million workers filed first-time claims for unemployment insurance last week, the Labor Department said Thursday. That’s down slightly from 1.48 million in the prior week. That latest round of applications means more than 48 million Americans have made initial jobless benefits claims in just 15 weeks. Initial jobless claims are the nation’s most reliable gauge of layoffs.

Twice as many workers have had to take pay cuts during the pandemic as in the Great Recession. The cuts are growing rapidly in white-collar industries, payroll processor ADP reports, which suggests this recession will be deep and the economic turnaround slow. In minutes released this afternoon from a June meeting, Federal Reserve officials raised concerns that the nation could enter a much worse recession later this year if coronavirus cases continued to spike.

President Trump on Saturday signed an extension of the small business loan Paycheck Protection Program into law. The program – a major lifeline for many businesses – expired last Tuesday. just as coronavirus cases are spiking in dozens of states. House lawmakers unanimously passed the extension less than a day after the program expired, and PPP will now remain open to applications through August 8. Congress created the program in March to help small businesses keep employees on their payrolls through nationwide closures amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Federal student loan rates are hitting historic lows. For the 2020-2021 academic year, the interest rate on federal student loans for undergraduates has dropped to 2.75%, down from 4.53% last year. The previous record low was in 2004-05 when interest rates were as low as 2.875%. Graduate students are looking at rates of 4.3%, down from the old rate of 6.08%. Graduate students are looking at rates of 4.3%, down from the old rate of 6.08%.

NPC International, the operator of 1,200 Pizza Hut and nearly 400 Wendy’s restaurants in the United States, has filed for bankruptcy. NPC’s restaurants will continue to operate while it navigates the Chapter 11 process. The company employs nearly 40,000 people in 27 U.S. states.

McDonald’s is hitting the brakes on its U.S. reopening plans as the coronavirus surges across the country. The mega-chain issued a statement Wednesday saying restaurants will be told to postpone dine-in service for the next three weeks. Takeout, delivery, and drive-thru service, however, can remain. This comes after partial dine-in service was allowed starting in May, with about 2,200 of America’s 14,000 locations letting customers eat inside at limited capacity.

Netflix is shifting $100 million in cash to financial institutions that serve the Black community in a move that draws attention to the racial wealth gap in America. The company sits on $5.1 billion in cash, so they are moving 2% of that to Black-led banks.

Beginning in August, Walmart is converting 160 of its U.S. store parking lots into drive-in movie theaters. As the pandemic continues, drive-in theaters have been making a comeback as a safe alternative to the traditional movie theaters that remain closed in much of the country.

Curbside pickup has exploded in popularity over the past few months and retailers and mall operators are rushing to catch up. But while big-box retailers like Walmart, Target and Kroger operate free-standing stores and have the space to quickly ramp up the service, it’s not so easy for America’s malls. The stores that are typically inside the mall do not have an entrance out into the parking lot.

Israel Blamed for Explosion at Iranian Nuclear Site

A fire and an explosion early Thursday morning that struck a building above Iran’s underground Natanz uranium enrichment facility was caused by an Israeli cyberattack, according to the Kuwaiti al-Jarida newspaper. U.S.-based analysts have identified the site as a new centrifuge production plant. The blast, the Kuwaiti paper said, made a “crack” in the reactor building, where it is widely believed the Islamic Republic is enriching uranium for use in nuclear weapons. The explosion occurred less than a week after a massive explosion rocked the Parchin military site in Iran’s capital city Tehran.

Democrats Divided Over Aid to Israel

A letter signed by a group of far-left U.S. lawmakers calling for a cut of American military aid to Israel in response to any annexation of parts of Judea and Samaria has been met with criticism from pro-Israel groups, including those affiliated with the Democratic Party. The letter was spearheaded by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and was signed by, among others, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Rep. Ilhan Omar and Senator Bernie Sanders. The Democratic Majority for Israel (DMI) said it “opposes annexation, but we’re urging House Democrats not to sign Rep. AOC’s letter.”

Security Deteriorating in West Africa

Recent attacks by Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM) and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara—local affiliates of al-Qaeda and ISIS—against one another is punctuating a security breakdown in West Africa, a region already challenged by ongoing violence. Extremists had held a loose alliance to fight Western-backed governments across the Sahel, but that has broken in recent months under the weight of the French-led and American-backed military campaign to eliminate the terror threat.

New Hong Kong Anti-Protest Law Enforced

Hong Kong police made their first arrests under a new national security law imposed by China’s central government, detaining at least two protesters Wednesday for carrying flags and signs calling for Hong Kong’s independence. The arrests come less than 24 hours after the national security law was imposed by China after last year’s anti-government protests in the semi-autonomous territory. The law took effect on Tuesday at 11pm.

Weather

A severe thunderstorm that blasted through west Texas on Tuesday was so powerful that it caused dozens of freight train cars to derail. The storm generated straight-line winds over 80 mph that derailed the train and snapped multiple powerline poles in Midland.

Cars were inundated with water and at least one person had to be rescued from a home as a flash flood emergency was declared for parts of Mississippi Wednesday morning, including Pontotoc, Aberdeen and Okolona. As much as 10 inches of rain fell in some areas. Flooding was also reported in McNairy County, Tennessee, where the county 911 center had to be evacuated.

A landslide unleashed by heavy rains killed at least 162 people Thursday at a jade mine in Myanmar. 100 people were still missing and 30 have been hospitalized. The landslide happened in the Hpakant township in Kachin state on Myanmar’s northern border with China. The poverty-stricken area has lucrative deposits of jade and rubies. The people killed Thursday were freelancers scavenging for jade stones in waste left by a larger mining company.

More than a dozen people are presumed dead and several are missing after heavy rain and flooding slammed southern Japan Saturday, covering homes with water and leaving residents stranded on their rooftops awaiting rescue. More than 75,000 residents in Kumamoto and Kagoshima prefectures on Japan’s southwestern island of Kyushu were told to evacuate. More than 4 inches of rain per hour fell on parts of Kumamoto Prefecture. Some areas received up to 20 inches of rain in the past 72 hours.

 This news brief contributed by Pastor John Jacobsen, author of a number of exciting Christian fiction novels about the End Times (see www.johnajacobsen.com and www.gofg.org).  You can contact him on Facebook or purchase his books at Amazon.com at: https://www.amazon.com/End-Beginning-John-Jacobsen-ebook/dp/B005DTO2SO

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