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 Matthew 24:42  “Therefore be on alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming!"

Bill to Legalize Assisted Suicide in Maine Goes to Governor

The Maine Legislature voted Tuesday to legalize assisted suicide, with supporters declaring it in line with the state's tradition of individualism and opponents insisting the practice tempts fate.

The bill now goes to Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, who has 10 days to act on the bill and has not indicated whether she will let it become law. Her office said she has not yet taken a position.

The proposal had failed once in a statewide vote and at least seven previous times in the Legislature. If Mills signs it, Maine would join seven other states, including New Jersey this year, and Washington, D.C., with similar laws, according to the Death With Dignity National Center and the Death With Dignity Political Fund.

From "Associated Press"


The Number of Americans Working in Their 70s Is Skyrocketing

Katharine Abraham, an economics professor at the University of Maryland, was chatting with her hairdresser one night about retirement plans. The economist said she plans to continue working because she wants to and has no plans for retiring. The hairdresser agreed but for different reasons: She needs the money.

Both scenarios are contributing to a big increase in the number of people in the US working into their 70s. Over the past 20 years, the share of Americans working in their 70s has risen from less than 10% to nearly 15%, according to US Census bureau data.

In addition to people being healthier and living much longer, economists say that a combination of financial considerations such as years of stagnant real wages and a shift away from traditional pensions in the private sector are some of the reasons people are working longer. The decline of manufacturing and the increase in the number of people working in less labor-intensive occupations also has contributed to the trend says Abraham, who researches work and retirement decisions of older Americans.

From "Quartz"

Mass Shootings Transform How America Talks, Prays, Prepares

The attacks have changed how America talks, prays and prepares for trouble. Today, the phrases "active shooter" and "shelter in place" need no explanation. A house of worship will have a priest, a rabbi or an imam - and maybe, an armed guard. And more schools are holding "lockdown drills" to prepare students for the possibility of a shooter.

From "Associated Press"


Beijing Warns US Not To Underestimate Chinese Military

Beijing warned Friday that the US should not underestimate China's military as the top defence officials from both countries met on the sidelines of a security forum.

As Beijing and Washington vie for influence in a region hosting potential flashpoints such as the South China Sea, Korean Peninsula and the Taiwan Strait, acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan met Chinese Defence Minister General Wei Fenghe for 20 minutes Friday.


Chinese defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian said they "reached some consensus" on issues of common concern, adding that Wei "particularly emphasised the Taiwan issue".

China sees Taiwan as part of its territory to be reunified, despite the two sides having being ruled separately since the end of a civil war on the mainland in 1949.

Beijing is regularly angered by US warships transiting through the Taiwan Strait, which it considers its territorial waters.

"He (Defence minister Wei) pointed out that the US has recently had a series of negative words and actions on this issue", Wu said, adding that Beijing was "firmly opposed" to this.

"On the issue of safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity, the US should not underestimate the determination, will and ability of the Chinese military."

Shanahan spokesman Joe Buccino told reporters the meeting was "constructive and productive".

-Risk of misunderstanding -

"The two leaders discussed ways to build military-to-military relations that reduce the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculation between our nations," he said.

Washington has been pushing back against Beijing's militarisation of the South China Sea, and ahead of Friday's meeting Shanahan told reporters that facilities China was building on reclaimed land in the South China Sea appeared to be an "overkill" if they were purely defensive.

"I mean surface-to-air missiles, long runways... Seems excessive," Shanahan said.

A top US top general said earlier this week that Chinese President Xi Jinping had reneged on promises by building "10,000-foot runways, ammunition storage facilities, routine deployment of missile defense capabilities, aviation capabilities" on reclaimed land.

Wei's attendance at the Shangri-La Dialogue -- an annual gathering of global defence officials organised by the International Institute for Strategic Studies think-tank -- is being taken as a sign that China is not backing away from the dispute.

"The Chinese want to be here to say their side of the story," Shawn Ho, associate research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore told AFP.

"Definitively, we are seeing more competition between the US and China... not just traditional fields, but also in technology... and I think this is something that we have to watch very carefully," Ho said

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a keynote speech to the gathering Friday evening the US-China bilateral relationship "is the most important in the world today", urging them to work together.

"Even short of outright conflict, a prolonged period of tension and uncertainty will be extremely damaging," he warned, adding that serious international problems would not be addressed without the full participation of both powers.

Shanahan is expected to flesh out Washington's strategy in the Pacific region, where both the US and China are vying for influence, during a talk on Saturday.



Wei will address the conference on Sunday, with a source from his delegation saying the speech will outline China's role in global security and US-China ties -- as well as addressing the territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

"The 'China threat' is a non-existent issue. We are here to correct that misconception," added the source, who did not want to be named.

From "Yahoo News"



Most Atheists and Agnostics BELIEVE in the Supernatural and ‘Underlying Forces of Good and Evil' Despite Rejecting Religion in Favor of Science, Study Finds

Even most atheists can't entirely shake their belief in the supernatural, says a new study. 

According to recent research, even those who purport not to believe in any organized religion accepted at least some supernatural sentiments.

The study comes from the Understanding Unbelief project, which is sponsored through the University of Kent in the U.K. and was based on thousands of atheist or agnostic respondents.

'Unbelief in God doesn't necessarily entail unbelief in other supernatural phenomena,' write the report's authors.

'Atheists and (less so) agnostics exhibit lower levels of supernatural belief than do the wider populations. 

'However, only minorities of atheists or agnostics in each of our countries appear to be thoroughgoing naturalists.'

Just what exactly those beliefs are vary, according to the experts' research. 

In the U.S., a little under 20 percent of Americans reported believing in 'supernatural beings,' while about 50 percent of self-described atheists in China reported believing in 'underlying forces of good and evil.'

Relatively speaking, among general populations U.S. those rates jump to 60 percent in the U.S. and 70 percent in China.

Most commonly accepted beliefs among atheists, who are classified by firmly not believing in the existence of God and agnostics, who say it can't be proved one way or another, are the sentiment that are ‘underlying forces' of good and evil; that ‘there exists a universal spirit or life force'; and ‘most significant life events are meant to be and happen for a reason.'

Agnostics are notably more apt to believe in the supernatural according to research. This result was expected, say researchers, since agnosticism is defined by not knowing. Atheists were more staunch in their rejection of supernatural phenomenon, but still tended to embrace certain surprising ideas.

The study, which aggregated atheists from the U.K., the U.S., Japan, Brazil, Denmark, and China, found that respondents from Japan tended to be the least ‘supernaturally-inclined' while those from China and Brazil believed in the most. Not only do some of the ‘unbelievers,' accept the idea of some supernatural phenomenon and philosophies, but according to the report, none of the nationalities studied by researchers were considered overwhelming ‘naturalists'-a category rejects all supernatural ideas.

‘In none of our six countries surveyed does the percentage of unbelievers who qualify as naturalists approach 50 [percent],' reads the report. ‘Even among American atheists, the most naturalistic group across our surveyed countries, only a third seem to have a wholly naturalistic world view.'


While the study focused primarily on atheists and agnostics, researchers were also able to compare how the beliefs of ‘unbelievers' stacked up against general populations. According to recent research, even those who purport no to believe in any organized religion accepted at least some supernatural sentiments.

Surprisingly, when it came to the more fundamental tenants of groups' moral codes, the crossover was noticeable. ‘There is remarkably high agreement between unbelievers and general populations concerning the values most important for ‘finding meaning in the world and your own life.' ‘Family' and ‘Freedom' ranked highly for all,' reads the report. Where that commonality seemed to somewhat dissolve, however, were in a few notable categories-among them, ‘truth,' ‘nature,' and ‘science.'

Though the report doesn't explicitly address age, across the world, studies show that among younger generations the instance of ‘unbelievers' is vastly more common. In a recent study by Pew Research, young adults between 18 to 39 were less likely to report that religion is ‘very important' to them in 46 out of the 106 countries surveyed. Whether secularism is on the rise, however, remains to be seen.

People tend to become more religious as they age and those who are religious are more likely to have children, meaning those populations may grow much faster than their secular peers.

Graham Lawton, author of the new book ‘How to be Human,' suggests that as our lives become more stable, society could become ‘godless' as our need for religion fades away. When children encounter religion, Mr Lawson argues they find the explanations it offers intuitively appealing and believable-making them born believershbut this instinct is drummed out of them by education. The author claimed the reason people continue to be believe it because ‘they haven't thought that hard about it.'

However, although the future will be increasingly secular, humans will never totally lose the god instinct. As long as existential uncertainty exists Mr Lawton claims religion will not disappear completely-even though he believes some of the things in the bible are ‘just crazy.'

People cling onto moral guidance and existential comfort and they don't let go of them easily, he said. His comments are based on the cognitive theory of religion which states that belief is a by-product of our cognitive equipment. Our brain is primed to see meaning everywhere, which helps us make sense of random events.

Children like the idea that there is order and design in the world and it is actually useful as it allows them to reason about possible threats that we cannot see, for example a predator lurking in a nearby bush. According to Mr Lawton, although this is an evolutionary advantage, it also facilitates the build-up of delusional belief and a ‘feeling of rightness.'

‘To be an actual atheist and reject all religious ideas is not humanly possible- we'll still fill that hole with something,' said Mr Lawton. As long as existential uncertainty exists, Mr Lawton claims religion will not disappear completely.

From "Daily Mail"

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