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

COULD the world come to an end?  

The Bible is more than clear in its theological claim that Jesus Christ will return to Earth at an undisclosed, future time. In fact, that belief is a central hallmark of the Christian faith.

And the latter point about the timing is essential to highlight, as scripture makes it clear that no one knows exactly when the so-called "second coming" will unfold. Yet, once again, here we are with some Christians setting a specific date - September 23, 2017 - for the purported fulfillment of certain prophetic signs or events.

From "Fox News"

Mexico's Strongest Earthquake In A Century Leaves Dozens Dead  

At least 58 people have died after the most powerful earthquake to hit Mexico in a century struck off the southern coast.

The magnitude 8.1 quake, which was felt as far as Mexico City and Guatemala City, was registered off Mexico's southern coast just as heavy rains from Hurricane Katia lashed the east. The epicenter was in the Pacific Ocean, some 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) southeast of the capital and 74 miles (120 kilometers) off the coast.

President Enrique Peña Nieto said the temblor -- felt by about 50 million people across the country -- was the strongest earthquake Mexico has experienced in 100 years. In September 1985, a magnitude 8.0 earthquake killed an estimated 9,500 people in and around Mexico City.

From "CNN"

How the Strongest Solar Flare in a Decade Is Affecting Earth

Early Wednesday morning, the sun unleashed two monster solar flares, the second of which was the most powerful we've seen in more than a decade. The burst of radiation was so intense, it caused high-frequency radio blackouts across the daytime side of Earth that lasted for about an hour.

Solar flares are giant explosions on the surface of the sun that occur when twisted magnetic field lines suddenly snap and release massive amounts of energy. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center, the sun began unleashing its fury on Wednesday at 5:10 a.m. ET, with an X2.2 flare. Just three hours later, the sun produced a second flare measuring a whopping X9.3-the most powerful on record since 2006.

 From "National Geographic.com"

Hurricane Irma Skirts Puerto Rico, Leaves 1 Million Without Power

 Hurricane Irma carved a merciless path of destruction through the Caribbean, killing at least 12 people, leaving thousands of others homeless and plunging more than 1 million residents of Puerto Rico into darkness. As the eye of the Category 5 storm passed north of Puerto Rico early Thursday, a string of Caribbean islands grappled with flattened homes, flooding and widespread devastation. Irma battered the tiny island of Barbuda and the island territories of St. Bart and St. Martin, where local officials said about 95 percent of the island was completely demolished after Wednesday's thrashing.

From "NBC News"

Pope Francis, Christianity Threatened in ISIS Propaganda Video That Vatican Aide Calls Worrying  

Pope Francis' top aide said a propaganda video released by Islamic State group militants in the Philippines threatening the pontiff is worrying but notes Vatican security was already at a high level.

Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy See's No. 2 official, said he has seen the video of militants desecrating Christian statues and threatening the pope by saying they'll come to Rome, as they tear in half photos of him and his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.

The video was mostly filmed in the Philippines, where ISIS has been clashing with government forces for control of the city of Marawi, MailOnline reported.

From "Fox News"

Rescuers Pluck Hundreds From Rising Floodwaters in Houston

Volunteers joined emergency teams to pull people from their homes or from the water, which was high enough in places to gush into second floors. The flooding from Harvey, which made landfall late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane and has lingered dropping heavy rain as a tropical storm, was so widespread that authorities had trouble pinpointing the worst areas.

They urged people to get on top of their houses to avoid becoming trapped in attics and to wave sheets or towels to draw attention to their location.

From "Associated Press"

Canada Introduces 'X' as a Third Sex Category for Passport Holders

 
"By introducing an 'X' gender designation in our government-issued documents, we are taking an important step towards advancing equality for all Canadians regardless of gender identity or expression," Ahmed Hussen, the minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, said in a statement on Thursday.

From "The New York Times"

A Striking Rise in Serious Allergy Cases

The increase could be related to the increasing use of antibiotics, rising rates of C-sections that affect the microbiomes of babies, and an increasingly sterile environment, says Hugh Sampson, director of the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. All have altered the good bacteria in our intestinal tracts, which alters the programming of our immune systems.


From "The Wall Street Journal"

How My ‘Sex Change' Was Doomed to Fail from the Start

Recently, during a radio show on which I appeared as a guest, a caller posed a question I frequently get asked: "Do the administration of cross-gender hormones and genital surgery change a boy into a girl or a girl into a boy?"

The answer is simple: biologically, not at all.

From "CNS News.com"

Are Far Left and Far Right Equivalent?

President Trump has committed the unpardonable sin of implying that the far left is as violent as the far right.  This can be a career-ender.  New York Times domestic affairs correspondent Sheryl Gay Stolberg may have learned this the hard way.  "The hard left seemed as hate-filled as alt-right. I saw club-wielding 'antifa' beating white nationalists being led out of the park," Stolberg wrote.  She was immediately set upon.  She had contradicted the progressive narrative.  Perhaps she can be forgiven because her comments were made early in the dispute.  The progressive narrative is that this was a demonstration by white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and KKK protesting the removal of statues of slaveholders.  They were opposed by "civil rights protesters," defenders of the American Way.  In Stolberg's revised comments, the protesters were "standing up to hate."


From "American Thinker.com"

Kids as Young as 4 Find Safe Space at Transgender Day Camp


Gender specialists say the camp's growth reflects what they are seeing in gender clinics nationwide: increasing numbers of children coming out as transgender at young ages. They credit the rise to greater openness and awareness of LGBTQ issues and parents tuning in earlier when a child shows signs of gender dysphoria, or distress about their gender. "A decade ago, this camp wouldn't have existed. Eventually, I do believe, it won't be so innovative," camp founder Sandra Collins said. "I didn't know you could be transgender at a very young age. But my daughter knew for sure at 2."

From "NBC News"

Prof Lets Students Choose Own Grades for 'Stress Reduction'


A University of Georgia professor has adopted a "stress reduction policy" that will allow students to select their own grades if they "feel unduly stressed" by the ones they earned. According to online course syllabi for two of Dr. Richard Watson's fall business courses, he has introduced the policy because "emotional reactions to stressful situations can have profound consequences for all involved."

From "Campus Reform"

Alcoholism Epidemic: More Than 1 in 8 Americans Are Now Alcoholics


The largest change was in the most severe alcohol use category. The number of people who had received a diagnosis of alcoholism over the period of the two studies shot up by 49%, affecting 12.7% of the total population. This means 1 in 8 Americans received a diagnosis of alcoholism in the year before the latest survey.

From "International Business Times"

Saudi Arabia Says King's Contact With U.S. Helped Ease Al-Aqsa Mosque Tensions

Saudi Arabia said on Thursday King Salman had been in contact with the United States and other world powers to try to prevent Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City being closed to Muslims and to defuse political and religious tensions.

Israel overnight removed all security infrastructure it had put in place this month at Muslim entrances to the al-Aqsa mosque compound and on Thursday Muslim elders urged worshippers to return there to pray.

"The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, has held contacts with many world leaders over the past few days," the announcement from the Saudi royal court, published by state news agency SPA, said.

Saudi Arabia is custodian of Islam's most revered places in Mecca and Medina while Jordan is the custodian of Al-Aqsa mosque, its third holiest site, which is also revered by Jews.

King Salman contacted the U.S. government and called for an end to restrictions on entry to the mosque, the statement said, saying that developments showed this push had been successful.

The king "stressed the need for the return of calm," and called for respect for the sanctity of the compound, it said.

From "Reuters.com"

 

Sweden Is Moving Away From Cash, And Some Businesses Will No Longer Accept It  

Back in 1661, Sweden was the first European country to introduce paper money as bank notes. Now that Scandinavian country has almost done away with it and is on course to be the first nation to go completely cash-free.

In Sweden, you can no longer use cash on trams or buses and many shops and cafés don't accept cash. Cash is even becoming rare in banks. Out of Sweden's 1,600 banks, 900 don't do cash- you can't deposit it or withdraw it. The number of bank robberies has declined steeply in consequence.

At Stockholm's Abba: The Museum, you can't use cash either. Its CEO, Joanna Madsen, is one of the many Swedes who now never carry any cash.

 "I am totally cashless," she said. "I haven't had any cash in Sweden for at least two or three years."

For small payments, Swedes like Madsen often use a Swedish app that transfers money using people's phone numbers. Even panhandlers sometimes use it, writing their cell phone numbers on bits of cardboard.

Another Swedish invention is a card terminal that fits onto your smartphone that is popular with street vendors, allowing their customers to forgo cash.

But Bjorn Eriksson, head of the campaign group Cash Uprising, is worried about where all this is leading.

"I think you're leaving a lot of people behind," said Eriksson. Some 10 percent of the Swedish population-including many elderly people-are still highly dependent on cash.

Worse, said Eriksson, "the private big banks are doing their best to kill the possibility to use cash and the reason is very simple-they don't earn money on cash."

Cecilia Skingsley, deputy governor of Riksbank, Sweden's central bank, said she's neutral on giving up cash, but saw a drop in illegal activity-from drug trafficking to illegal employment-as a benefit of a cashless society.

"The disadvantage is, for instance, that many people like making transactions without it being traced," she said. "The upside of going cashless is that it's more difficult to do informal transactions or evade taxes."

Riksbank predicts that cash will totally disappear in Sweden by 2030. Plenty of time to get used to the idea that your banker will know how many beers you had last night.

From "Marketplace.com"


UN Chief Fears Jerusalem Attack Could Ignite More Violence

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Friday that an attack that killed two Israeli police officers in Jerusalem could ignite more violence and said all sides must avoid escalation.

Three attackers opened fire near the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem's Old City on Friday, killing the officers, and the police immediately shot them dead in one of the most serious incidents in the city in recent years. Guterres condemned the attack, adding: "This incident has the potential to ignite further violence. All must act responsibly to avoid escalation."

 

The UN chief praised Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for swiftly condemning the violence and offering assurances that the holy sites in Jerusalem will be respected. "The sanctity of religious sites should be respected as places for reflection, not violence," Guterres said.

Security forces locked down the area and the Al-Aqsa mosque was closed to Friday prayers after the attack in a highly unusual move.

From "Yahoo.com"

Berlin ‘Dismayed and Furious' Over Murder of German Woman in Egypt

German officials said on Saturday they had been left "dismayed and furious" by the stabbing of two German women at an Egyptian beach resort, calling it a deliberate attack on foreign tourists.

An Egyptian man stabbed the two German tourists to death and wounded at least four others on Friday at a popular seaside vacation spot on the Red Sea, officials and witnesses said.

The knifeman killed the two German women and wounded two other tourists at the Zahabia hotel in Hurghada, then swam to a neighboring beach to attack at least two more people at the Sunny Days El Palacio resort before being caught by staff and arrested, officials and security sources said.

It was the first major attack on foreign tourists since a similar assault on the same resort more than a year ago, and comes as Egypt struggles to revive a tourism industry hurt by security threats and years of political upheaval.

"We now have the sad certainty that two German women were killed in the attack in Hurghada," a German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.

"According to what we know, the act was a deliberate attack on foreign tourists - a particularly devious and criminal act that leaves us sad, dismayed and furious," she added.

From "Reuter.com"

This Silicon Valley Company Wants to 'Make Better Humans' Through Biohacking

The co-founder said he anticipated a shift wherein people who did not have a diagnosed medical need for pharmaceuticals regularly seek cognitive enhancements. "You're seeing this broad consumer excitement around 'human body' as a platform and around biohacking," Brandt said. "Healthy people want to be optimized versions of themselves ... You just want to have a better day. You want to be a better version of yourself."
 


From "CNBC"

Vatican Rocked: Police Raid Drug-Fuelled Gay Orgy at Cardinal's Apartment


Police entered an apartment at the former palace of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (or Holy Office) last month, not far from the Vatican City. The occupant of the apartment is alleged to be a priest who serves as a secretary to cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, the head of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts and a personal adviser to the Pope.

From "The New Zealand Herald"

It's Summer, and Washington Smells Like Weed. Everywhere, All the Time.


Walking her dog on a Monday night in Adams Morgan, Brianne Molloy said that she usually catches a whiff around here in the evening. She didn't know who was doing the smoking, but just a block away, Mark Bebawy, the owner of Funky Piece Smoke Shop and Glass Gallery, was hosting a potent party in a basement restaurant that was closed for the evening. A man wearing a rubber whistle in the shape of a seashell emerged onto the street, holding a plastic baggie containing what he said was exactly the legally permitted two ounces of weed. "It's the District of Cannabis," he shrugs.

From "The Washington Post"

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