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

Homeless People Wearing Barcodes to Accept Cashless Payments 

Passersby who wish to give money - but who may not have any change in their pocket - can scan the code using their smart phone, and make an online payment to the person. The donation goes into an account which is managed by a case worker who ensures that the money is spent on agreed targets, such as saving for a rental deposit or a new passport.

From "The Telegraph"

Battling 18 Blazes, California May Face Worst Fire Season

"For whatever reason, fires are burning much more intensely, much more quickly than they were before," said Mark A. Hartwig, president of the California Fire Chiefs Association. California is seeing earlier, longer and more destructive wildfire seasons because of drought, warmer weather attributed to climate change and home construction deeper into the forests.

From "Associated Press"

'Too Little Too Late': Bankruptcy Booms Among Older Americans 

For a rapidly growing share of older Americans, traditional ideas about life in retirement are being upended by a dismal reality: bankruptcy. The signs of potential trouble - vanishing pensions, soaring medical expenses, inadequate savings - have been building for years. Now, new research sheds light on the scope of the problem: The rate of people 65 and older filing for bankruptcy is three times what it was in 1991, the study found, and the same group accounts for a far greater share of all filers.

From "The New York Times"

Germany: Rise of the Salafists 

"Salafists see themselves as defenders of an original, unadulterated Islam. They model their religious practice and lifestyle exclusively on the principles of the Koran, the Prophet Mohammed and the first three Muslim generations, the so-called righteous ancestors (Al-Salaf al-Salih in Arabic). As a consequence, Salafists want to establish a 'theocracy' according to their interpretation of the rules of sharia, one in which the liberal democratic order no longer applies.

From "Gatestone Institute"


Superbugs Now Also Becoming Resistant to Alcohol Disinfectants 

Multidrug-resistant "superbugs" that can cause dangerous infections in hospitals are becoming increasingly resistant to alcohol-based hand sanitizers and disinfectants designed to hold them at bay, scientists said.In a study of what the researchers described as a "new wave of superbugs", the team also found specific genetic changes over 20 years in vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus, or VRE - and were able to track and show its growing resistance.Their findings were published on Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

VRE bugs can cause urinary tract, wound and bloodstream infections that are notoriously difficult to treat, mainly because they are resistant to several classes of antibiotics.

In efforts to tackle the rise of hospital superbugs such as VRE and MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, institutions worldwide have adopted stringent hygiene steps - often involving hand rubs and washes that contain alcohol.
Tim Stinear, a microbiologist at Australia's Doherty Institute who co-led the study, said that in Australia alone, use of the alcohol-based hand hygiene has increased tenfold over the past 20 years. "So we are using a lot and the environment is changing," he said.

From "Yahoo/Reuters

"Noncitizens Across U.S. Find It Easy to Register to Vote, Cast Ballots" 

A Russian national or any other noncitizen can easily influence a U.S. election by simply registering to vote in California - just ask Elizaveta Shuvalova.Ms. Shuvalova said she didn't even know her name was added to the San Francisco voter rolls in 2012, when she was a 21-year-old Russian citizen living legally in the U.S. but ineligible to vote.

"I've never registered for anything in my entire life," said Ms. Shuvalova, who became a U.S. citizen early last year. "This is news to me."The Washington Times obtained a San Francisco County voter log that detailed Ms. Shuvalova's registration history and presented the document to her.

It showed that she signed up as a Democrat in July 2012 and that her registration was canceled in May 2016 after she told election officials she wasn't a citizen. Her registration, as a Republican, was reactivated in March 2017.

"This is definitely a shocker to me. It is like an identity fraud because this is not coming from my end," said Ms. Shuvalova, who now lives in New York, works as a personal trainer and calls herself a Democrat. "Like I told you, I haven't even been a citizen during that time frame. So what can we do about it?"Noncitizens are signing up to vote in states including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Virginia, according to research by the Public Interest Legal Foundation, a nonprofit law firm that advocates for election integrity. The foundation found that a large percentage of those noncitizens managed to cast ballots, too.

From "The Washington Times"


"Deadly Northern California Wildfire ‘Taking Down Everything in Its Path', Spawning Firenadoes" 

A raging wildfire in Northern California that swelled in size overnight has killed two people and injured at least three firefighters, officials said Friday.The Carr Fire in Shasta County has since claimed the lives of a bulldozer operator and a city of Redding firefighter, according to officials from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the U.S. National Park Service and the Shasta County Sheriff's Office. 

The "mechanical failure of a vehicle" ignited the blaze in Whiskeytown Monday, officials said. The fire had burned an area of more than 44,000 acres by Friday morning, with a containment of just 3 percent. The flames ripped through northwest Shasta County then spread southeast, sweeping across the Sacramento River overnight and roaring toward the city limits of Redding, which is home to 92,000.The blaze is "taking everything down in its path," and the situation on the scene is "very dynamic" and "a heck of a fight," Scott McLean, a spokesman for the crews battling the Carr Fire, told The Associated Press. 

Gusty winds reaching 60 mph are fanning the flames and creating fire tornadoes, or "firenadoes," that move erratically and are strong enough to overturn vehicles "like toys," McLean told reporters at a news conference late Thursday. 

From "ABC News"

Greece Wildfires:  Scores Dead As Holiday Resort Devastated 

The worst wildfire to hit Greece in over a decade tore through a small resort town near Athens on Monday afternoon, killing at least 74 people, injuring almost 200 and forcing hundreds more to rush on to beaches and into the sea as the blaze devoured houses and cars.

Huge, fast-moving flames trapped families with children as they tried to flee from Mati, 18 miles (29km) east of the Greek capital. Among the dead were 26 people whose bodies were found huddled tightly together close to the beach, a Red Cross official said on Tuesday morning.

As Greece tried to come to terms with what one civil protection agency official described as "a national tragedy", the country activated an EU agreement to request help from fellow member states.
A military transport plane with 60 firefighters on board flew out of Cyprus, Spain dispatched two water-dropping planes and other countries, including Turkey, Israel and Italy, offered to send planes and helicopters.
"Europe will stand by our Greek friends in these difficult times," tweeted Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council. "Help is on its way from several EU countries."

From "The Guardian"

UN Warns Members About Its "Troubling Financial Situation"

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres is sounding the alarm to members about the world body's "troubling financial situation," urging them to pay up."Our cash flow has never been this low so early in the calendar year, and the broader trend is also concerning; we are running out of cash sooner and staying in the red longer," he said in a letter to staff, reports FoxNews.com. Guterres went on to say that the organization will be taking measures to look at reducing costs, in a way that won't affect their mission. He said he also will be proposing to states various steps to strengthen financial stability at the U.N. Trump administration threats to cut funding do not appear to be directly linked to the cash crunch. 

While the administration has been eyeing carefully its payments to various U.N. funds and agencies, the U.S. has not yet reduced or delayed its payments to the budget, though due to the fall start of the U.S. fiscal year, payments usually come later in the year. (Fox News)Late payments are reportedly a big problem for the organization, Secretary-General spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Thursday. 

From "Townhall"

'Boy or Girl?' Parents Raising 'Theybies' Let Kids Decide

Parents in the U.S. are increasingly raising children outside traditional gender norms - allowing boys and girls to play with the same toys and wear the same clothes - though experts say this is happening mostly in progressive, well-to-do enclaves. But what makes this "gender-open" style of parenting stand out, and even controversial in some circles, is that the parents do not reveal the sex of their children to anyone - including the children themselves.Even the children, who are aware of their own body parts and how they may differ from others, are not taught to associate those body parts with being a boy or girl. If no one knows a child's sex, these parents theorize, the child can't be pigeonholed into gender stereotypes.

From "NBC News

"The $247 Trillion Global Debt Bomb

The untold story of the world economy - so far at least - is the potentially explosive interaction between the spreading trade war and the overhang of global debt, estimated at a staggering $247 trillion. That's "trillion" with a "t." The numbers are so large as to be almost incomprehensible.

Households, businesses and governments borrow on the assumption that they will service their debts either by paying the principal and interest or by rolling over the debts into new loans. But this works only if incomes grow fast enough to make the debts bearable or to justify new loans. When those ingredients go missing, delinquencies, defaults and (at worse) panics follow.Here's where the trade war and debt may intersect disastrously. Since 2003, global debt has soared. As a share of the world economy (gross domestic product), the increase went from 248 percent of GDP to 318 percent. In the first quarter of 2018 alone, global debt rose by a huge $8 trillion. The figures include all major countries and most types of debt: consumer, business and government.But to service these debts requires rising incomes, while an expanding trade war threatens to squeeze incomes. The resort to more tariffs and trade restrictions will make it harder for borrowers to pay their debts. At best, this could slow the global economy. At worst, it could trigger another financial crisis.

Note that the danger is worldwide. It's not specific to the United States. In a new report, the Institute of International Finance (IIF), an industry research and advocacy group, says the debts of some "emerging market" countries (Turkey, South Africa, Brazil, Argentina) seem vulnerable to rollover risk: the inability to replace expiring loans. In 2018 and 2019, about $1 trillion of dollar-denominated emerging-market debt is maturing, the IIF says.
Debt can either stimulate or retard economic growth, depending on the circumstances. Now we're approaching a turning point, according to Hung Tran, the IIF's executive managing director. If debt growth is not sustainable, as Tran believes, new lending will slow or stop. Borrowers will have to devote more of their cash flow to servicing existing debts.

From "The Washington Post"

Pope Francis Doesn't Get The Gospel

Prior to the release of his controversial encyclical letter on the environment, Pope Francis made comments during mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae that provide some of the theological framework for that document. Much has been made about the pope's blunders regarding science, economics, and politics, but these pale in comparison to his theological errors.While many of Francis's critics might not be concerned about theology-choosing, instead, to focus on more secular topics relating to collectivism, "ecological conversion," and wealth redistribution-it is the pope's theology on which everything else stands or falls."Poverty is at the very center of the Gospel," Pope Francis declared. "If we remove poverty from the Gospel, no one would be able to understand anything about the message of Jesus." The poverty Francis is talking about is not spiritual poverty, but economic poverty. He made this abundantly clear when he said, "If faith doesn't reach your pockets, it's not a genuine faith."Referencing 2 Corinthians 8:9, Francis went on to explain that Jesus Christ, who was rich, with the very richness of God, made himself poor; he lowered himself for us. "This, then is the meaning of the first Beatitude," Francis said. "‘Blessed are the poor in spirit,' i.e. ‘to be poor is to let oneself to be enriched by the poverty of Christ, to desire not to be rich with other riches than those of Christ.'" The meaning of Francis's words is plain: the poverty of Christ is not only spiritual poverty, but also material poverty.The center of the gospel is Christ. His life. His death. His resurrection. His righteousness. His forgiveness. His love. This message is the greatest gift Christians can give to the poor and to the rich. It is a message for everyone, without exception. It's a message anyone can understand. It is the healing balm for the sick, the strong arms that carry the weak, the water that quenches the thirsty, the food that fills the hungry, and the hand that lifts the downcast from fear and darkness into light. It is a free gift for all. Soli Deo Gloria.

From "The Federalist"

Germany makes independent decisions, chancellor says in response to claim it is controlled by RussiaAngela Merkel has pushed back against Donald Trump's extraordinary tirade against Germany on the first day of the Nato summit in Brussels, denying her country was "totally controlled" by Russia and saying it made its own independent decisions and policies.
In less blunt language than the US president's, the German chancellor made the point that she needed no lessons in dealing with authoritarian regimes, recalling she had been brought up in East Germany when it had been part of the Soviet Union's sphere of influence.
Arriving at Nato headquarters only hours after Trump singled out Germany for criticism, Merkel said: "I have experienced myself how a part of Germany was controlled by the Soviet Union. I am very happy that today we are united in freedom, the Federal Republic of Germany. Because of that we can say that we can make our independent policies and make independent decisions. That is very good, especially for people in eastern Germany."
Merkel and Trump have a one-to-one meeting scheduled for later on Wednesday. According to reports in the US media, Trump is keen to see Merkel replaced as chancellor. His outburst could be part of a strategy to try to undermine her at a time when she is domestically vulnerable.

From "The Guardian"

A group of researchers and students at MIT have developed an intelligent radar-like technology that makes it possible to see through walls to track people as they move around, a development that could prove useful for monitoring the elderly or sick as well as for other applications - but that also raises privacy concerns.
Tests show that the technology, known as RF-Pose, can reveal whether someone is walking, sitting, standing or even waving - and can identify individuals from a known group with a success rate of 83 percent. Its developers say it could prove useful for law enforcement, search and rescue, and - perhaps most important - health care.
"We've seen that monitoring patients' walking speed and ability to do basic activities on their own gives health care providers a window into their lives that they didn't have before, which could be meaningful for a whole range of diseases," Dina Katabi, a computer scientist at MIT and leader of the group, said in a statement.The technology, which uses artificial intelligence to interpret radio wave data, grows out of earlier work by the same group. Previous versions of the technology could detect a person's silhouette behind a wall, but Katabi said this is the first time it's been possible to closely track and identify people.

From "NBC News"


Scores of foreign experts flew into a remote area of northern Thailand to help the Thai Navy SEALs execute a rescue mission that had been called urgent, risky and dangerous. Divers, engineers, medics and military personnel from all over the world played a crucial role in helping devise a strategy to transport the boys the four grueling kilometers out of a flooded cave.
Thirteen foreign divers joined five Thai Navy divers for the initial rescue Sunday. The team of international experts included the two British divers who originally found the boys on July 2, Richard "Rick" Stanton and John Volanthen. "Many people are coming," the divers told the boys, as they perched on a rocky ledge deep within the cave, nine days into what would be for some an 18-day ordeal.In total, 110 Thai Navy SEALs were deployed to the scene, including off-duty and former members of the elite squad. They lost one of their own on Friday when former Thai Navy Sgt. Saman Kunan died after running out of oxygen in the cave.His death underscored the risks involved, as teams of two split off to escort each boy out, one sticking close to each child, to ensure he followed the guide ropes. The other swimming behind as a safety measure to ensure everything went as planned."This is a Thai-led, multi-national rescue operation, and what's fantastic is that you see the US here, the Australians, the Chinese, the British divers, obviously," she said. "It shows that when militaries train together, it's for this -- it's for the real world." Other volunteers living in Thailand also pitched in to help, including Israeli diver Rafael Aroush. International companies also offered equipment and expertise.US billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk flew in to Thailand Monday with "kid-size" submarines which he suggested could help to bring the boys out.Musk said based on "feedback from Thailand," the engineers decided to build a tiny sub using a large silver tube meant to be affixed to a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.Musk explained the metal tube would be "[l]ight enough to be carried by 2 divers, small enough to get through narrow gaps" in the cave, and "extremely robust." The device is also outfitted with oxygen ports and a nose cone to protect it from impact with rocks, according to Musk's tweets.In the end, it was the expert divers who carried the boys to safety.

From "CNN"

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