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

"EU Should Enable Military Coalitions To Tackle Crises, Germany Says" 


From "reuters.com"


  • EU tries to revive idea of intervention force
  • EU, an economic power, lacks common defences
  • Afghanistan shows need for action, Borrell says
  • U.S. says more capable Europe 'in our shared interests'
  • Washington urges greater EU-NATO cooperation

BRDO, Slovenia, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Germany called on the European Union on Thursday to enable coalitions of the willing within the bloc to rapidly deploy a military force in a crisis as members discussed the lessons learned after the chaotic evacuation from Afghanistan. EU efforts to create a rapid reaction force have been paralysed for more than a decade despite the creation in 2007 of a system of battlegroups of 1,500 troops that have never been used due to disputes over funding and a reluctance to deploy. But the exit of U.S.-led troops from Afghanistan has brought the subject back into the spotlight, with the EU alone potentially unable to evacuate personnel from countries where it is training foreign troops, such as in Mali.

"Sometimes there are events that catalyse history, that create a breakthrough, and I think that Afghanistan is one of these cases," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in Slovenia, adding that he hoped for a plan in October or November. Borrell urged the bloc to create a rapidly deployable "first entry force" of 5,000 troops to reduce dependence on the United States. He said President Joe Biden was the third consecutive U.S. leader to warn the Europeans that his country was pulling back from interventions abroad in Europe's backyard. "It represents a warning for the Europeans, they need to wake (up) and to take their own responsibilities," he said after chairing a meeting of EU defence ministers in Slovenia. Diplomats in the meeting told Reuters there was no decision on the way ahead, with the EU unable to agree on how it would quickly decide to authorise a mission without involving all 27 states, their national parliaments and those wanting United Nations approval. Asked to comment on the German call, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said "a stronger, more capable Europe is in our shared interests" and that Washington strongly supported enhanced cooperation between the European Union and the U.S.-led NATO military alliance.

"NATO and the EU must forge stronger and institutional links and leverage each institution's unique capabilities and strengths to avoid duplication and potential waste of scarce resources," he told a regular news briefing. The proposal from Germany, one of the strongest military powers in the EU but historically reluctant to send its forces into combat, would rely on a joint decision by the bloc but not necessarily all members deploying their forces. "In the EU, coalitions of the willing could act after a joint decision of all," German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said in a tweet. A rapid reaction force is seen as more likely now that Britain has exited the bloc. Britain, one of Europe's main military powers alongside France, had been sceptical of collective defence policy. EU diplomats say they want a final deal on design and funding by March. France takes over the six-month EU presidency from Slovenia in January. Kramp-Karrenbauer said the key question was not whether the EU would establish a new military unit, and the discussion must not stop there. "The military capabilities in EU member countries do exist," she said. "The key question for the future of the European security and defence police is how we finally use our military capabilities together."

Slovenian Defence Minister Matej Tonin suggested that a rapid reaction force could comprise 5,000 to 20,000 troops but deployment should not depend on a unanimous decision by the EU's 27 states. "If we are talking about the European battlegroups, the problem is that, because of the consensus, they are almost never activated," he told reporters. "Maybe the solution is that we invent a mechanism where the classic majority will be enough and those who are willing will be able to go (ahead)."


"Ask for COVID-19 Vaccine Proof, Face a US $5,000 Fine in Florida"

From "ctv.com"

Florida will start issuing US$5,000 fines to businesses, schools and government agencies that require people to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill earlier this year that banned vaccine passports. The fines will start Sept. 16 if people are asked to show proof of a vaccine. "Promises made, promises kept," DeSantis spokesperson Taryn Fenske said Wednesday.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the state's only statewide elected Democrat and a candidate hoping to challenge DeSantis for governor next year, was critical of the fines. "Governor DeSantis is retaliating against Floridians who are trying to protect themselves and their communities from COVID-19," Fried said in an emailed statement. "This not only goes against common sense -- it's also an insult to the free market principles that he claims to champion."

COVID-19 infections in Florida have skyrocketed over the summer as the state has been one of the hardest hit areas of the U.S. from the delta variant. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has reported more than 15,000 patients are currently hospitalized in Florida, up from about 1,800 in June.

"Driver's Licenses Will Soon Be Coming To The iPhone And Apple Watch In These 8 States"

From "npr.com"

Eight states will begin to roll out a new feature that will allow users to add their driver's license and state IDs to Apple Wallet for iPhone and Apple Watch. Arizona and Georgia will be the first states to introduce the feature, Apple announced on Wednesday, with Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma and Utah to follow afterward.

The states have not yet said when they'll start making the digital IDs available, but once they do, the Transportation Security Administration said it will allow travelers to use them at checkpoints and security lanes at select airports. "The addition of driver's licenses and state IDs to Apple Wallet is an important step in our vision of replacing the physical wallet with a secure and easy-to-use mobile wallet," said Jennifer Bailey, Apple's vice president of Apple Pay and Apple Wallet. Adding a license or ID will work much the same way as adding a debit or credit card to Apple Wallet, but Apple said it is rolling out a few requirements for additional security. After users scan their IDs on their iOS device, they will be asked to take a selfie, which will be securely provided to the issuing state for verification. As an additional security measure, users will also be asked to complete a series of facial and head movements during the setup process.

The company said customer data is "encrypted and protected against tampering and theft," ensuring that only the owner who added the ID to their iPhone or Apple Watch can view the ID. And it's designed so that users can present their digital IDs at TSA checkpoints without having to take out physical identification cards or hand over their Apple devices. The new ID feature will be available with the newest iPhone software update release this fall.



"Transgender People Twice As Likely To Die As Cisgender People, Study Finds"

From "forbes.com"

TOPLINE Transgender people are twice as likely to die as cisgender people, according to a long running study published in the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology on Thursday, a difference researchers said underscores the need for improving social acceptance and medical care for trans people.


  • The increased risk did not fall over the almost five decades studied between 1972 and 2018, according to an analysis of medical records from nearly 3,000 trans women and more than 1,600 trans men treated at the Amsterdam University Medical Center, which treats around 90% of trans people in the country.
  • Trans women had particularly elevated risks of death-notably from heart disease, lung cancer, HIV-related illness and suicide-the researchers noted, and were almost twice as likely to die than cis men and nearly three times as likely to die than cis women.
  • There were no differences in the risks of death between trans and cisgender men, the study found, though the group was almost twice as likely to die than cis women, especially from non-natural causes like suicide.
  • The researchers said the findings add weight to the idea that the health disparities observed in transgender people are not primarily driven by gender-affirming hormone treatment-which can potentially increase the likelihood of some conditions-as most causes of increased death identified have no indication of being a consequence of this.
  • Lead author Martin den Heijer said bolstering social acceptance and improving healthcare for trans people, particularly for heart disease, tobacco use, and HIV, will be important for decreasing the risk of death, adding that further research will be needed to "fully establish" any long-term risk to hormone treatment.

It is well documented that transgender  and gender non-conforming people, particularly trans women, have much higher risks of death and illness than the general population. Hormone therapy has been identified as a possible, though not definite, contributor towards this. Trans adults are at a much greater risk of dealing with suicidal thoughts and attempting suicide than cisgender adults, as well as more likely to experience homelessness, violence and discrimination. 

As the study is observational and based on medical records, it is possible other factors not recorded could have contributed towards the higher death rates in transgender people. The authors stress caution when applying its findings to other regions, which may use different kinds of gender-affirming hormone treatment and the 90% white study group. In a linked comment, Emory University's Dr. Vin Tangpricha, who was not involved in the study, said gender-affirming hormone treatment for trans women in the U.S. and U.K. typically differs and could raise different safety concerns.   



First author Christel de Blok said most suicides and deaths related to HIV in the study occurred in the first decades studied, "suggesting that greater social acceptance and access to support, and improved treatments for HIV, may have played an important role in reducing deaths related to these causes among transgender people in recent years."

"Rare 3,100 Year Old Inscription Could Be Linked to Gideon From the Book of Judges, Israeli Archaeologists Says"

From "christianheadlines.com"

Israeli archaeologists have uncovered an extremely rare 3,100-year-old inscription of a name that could very well be linked to the biblical judge Gideon from the Old Testament book of Judges. According to The Times of Israel, archaeologists found a pottery vessel from a storage pit dating back to 1,100 BC at the Khirbet el Rai site during excavations in the Judean foothills. The small jug had an inscription of the name "Jerubbaal" or "Yeruba'al" on it, which was the same name given to Gideon, whose story is found in Judges 6, 7, and 8.

The rare find could be the first case of hard evidence of an artifact with a name connected to the biblical judges. "For decades, there were practically no inscriptions of this era and region," Michael Langlois, a polymath independent epigrapher and historian, told The Times of Israel. "To the point that we were not even sure what the alphabet looked like at that time. There was a gap. Some even argued that the alphabet was unknown in the region, that there were no scribes, and that the Bible must therefore have been written much later."

Professor Christopher Rollston from George Washington University, who deciphered the text, noted that the 'Jerubbaal' inscription is "the most logical and reasonable reading, and I consider it quite definitive." "I would hasten to add that this script is well known and nicely attested, so we can read it with precision," he added. According to UPI, archaeologists explained that while Gideon was also called Jerubaal,  they could not confirm if he owned the vessel with the inked inscription.

"According to the Bible, Gideon organized a small army of 300 soldiers and attacked the Midianites by night near Ma'ayan Harod," Yossef Garfinkel and Sa'ar Ganor, lead archaeologists on the project and professors at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, explained. "In view of the geographical distance between the Shephelah and the Jezreel Valley, this inscription may refer to another Jerubbaal and not the Gideon of biblical tradition, although the possibility cannot be ruled out that the jug belonged to the judge Gideon," they continued.

"In any event, the name Jerubbaal was evidently in common usage at the time of the biblical Judges," Garfinkel and Ganor noted. On Monday, the archaeologists published the discovery of the inscription in the Jerusalem Journal of Archaeology, an open-access online journal.


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