Displaying items by tag: USA
Devastating flash floods have killed 37 people and hundreds are still missing in eastern Kentucky’s worst disaster for decades. The death toll will continue to rise. Hundreds of homes and businesses have been destroyed. People are sitting on their porches, hoping somebody is coming to save them. See In July, Sydney in Australia was hit with a month’s worth of rain in five days; people are still cleaning up three feet of swirling mud. Pakistan has 7,000+ glaciers, but rising global temperatures are causing them to melt rapidly, creating thousands of glacial lakes that might burst and release millions of cubic metres of water and debris, flooding villages in just a few hours. Worsening Indian monsoons cause Mumbai residents to commute on Venetian gondolas and inflatable dinghies. This year residents are being asked to tweet details about floods in their neighbourhoods. The data is then used to issue immediate geographically-specific flood alerts.
On 24 July part of California had to declare another state of emergency and evacuate over 6,000 people as the largest active wildfire in the USA rapidly spread near Yosemite National Park (home to some of the largest and oldest sequoia trees in the world). The Oak Fire started two days earlier but the explosive behaviour of the fire meant firefighters struggled to control it. The state of emergency allows access to federal help. By 27 July the wildfires grew to 18,824 acres with 36% containment, but the northward direction of the wind was taking it into the Sierra National Forest - no longer in the direction of Yosemite. The scale of the blaze marks an ominous start to California's wildfire season. Pray for the families and business owners of 100 destroyed structures and for the safety of the 1,000 structures being threatened.
Joe Biden will visit Israel and Saudi Arabia from 13 to 16 July. The 16th is a Jewish fast day in remembrance of Jerusalem's walls being breached. On that day the president will visit Saudi Arabia where Washington has been brokering talks to transfer a pair of Red Sea islands from Egypt to Saudi Arabia, in a deal that would see Riyadh take small steps toward formal diplomatic ties with Jerusalem. It is also believed that Biden’s visit to the Gulf kingdom is to seek an increase in its oil production and coordinate with regional partners on Iran. The president’s schedule of two days in Jerusalem and Bethlehem indicates Washington also aims to solidify the two-pronged ties with Jerusalem while assuring the Palestinians that his administration is still proactively committed to the two-state solution.
A left-wing group that supported Joe Biden in 2020 announced it is going to work against him with a public pressure campaign to block his renomination as the Democratic candidate in 2024. The group has an email list of 1.2 million people and will spend six figures on a #DontRunJoe campaign with digital ads starting in early nominating states the day after the midterm elections. They have already created the website DontRunJoe.org, with a petition asking him not to run. It includes recent media headlines outlining his many public gaffes to bolster its argument. They said, ‘Having Joe Biden as the Democratic Party's standard-bearer in 2024 would be a tragic mistake.’ The question of his advanced age and cognitive ability were frequently questioned during the 2020 election and have also been under scrutiny during his time in office by political pundits, lawmakers, and the media. 38 Republican members have asked Biden to take a cognitive test.
Five human rights organisations want Spain and Morocco to investigate the deaths of 18 migrants, the injuries of 76 others, and the actions of 140 Moroccan security officers when migrants attempted to scale a fence separating the two countries. Spain's Commission for Refugees decried ‘indiscriminate use of violence to manage migration and control borders had prevented people who were eligible for international protection from reaching Spanish soil’. Meanwhile, UNHCR is asking both Africa and Europe to enhance legal frameworks and operational capacities at land and sea borders and urban centres plus youth programming and local community-based development as alternatives to dangerous journeys. In America the bodies of 51 dead migrants were discovered inside a lorry in San Antonio. An official said they found ‘stacks of bodies and no water in the truck. Sixteen survivors are in hospital with heat stroke and exhaustion, including four minors. No children were among the dead. See
The US's overturning of women’s rights to abortion is reverberating globally, with activists on both sides of the debate responding. In 1978 Italy legalised abortion. The current rise of politics, closer to the Catholic church, has brought it back into focus, and the US decision is rumbling in Italy. A former foreign minister said it showed the risk in Italy of moving backwards and ‘losing achievements that seemed permanent’. But on the right, ‘A great victory’, declared Simone Pillon, hoping Italy and Europe would follow suit. In Ireland, America’s ruling triggered a swift, passionate response, stirring deep emotions where abortion was only recently decriminalised. Many vocal Irish campaign groups and activists still exist on both sides. A pro-abortion rights' activist in El Salvador, where abortion is banned in all cases said, ‘This will embolden the most conservative groups in our countries who consistently deny women rights.’ In Canada and India similar loud debates are being discussed in the media, Twitter and online.
Linda Taylor, a septuagenarian known as ‘Miss Linda’, came to Michigan nearly twenty years ago. She first came to help the homeless and needy, and now her neighbours are returning the favour. In February her landlord threatened to evict her. Linda didn’t know what the future held. She had lived in the same house for 19 years. The news of her predicament spread, and her community spent months protesting that she must not leave. The demonstrations worked. Linda’s landlord reconsidered, giving her the option to buy the house, but she didn’t have the money. Little did she know what was about to happen. The neighbourhood rallied behind Miss Linda, profoundly moved by her years of selfless dedication and service. They raised $275,000 and gave the cash to their beloved neighbour. Linda became a homeowner on 31 May. To celebrate, the neighbourhood came together on 5 June for a block party in her honour. Her story is a perfect reminder of the biblical principle of reaping and sowing.
Southern Baptists in the USA have adopted a resolution that rejects ‘prosperity gospel’ - the theology that Jesus' sacrificial and atoning death grants believers health, wealth and the removal of poverty and sickness. The resolution’s proposer said, ‘This is a distortion of biblical generosity, exploits vulnerable people. and blames those who are sick for lack of faith while corrupting a biblical understanding of suffering. The concepts come from African, pagan practices and voodooism.’ The resolution was adopted with overwhelming support; it was resolved that ‘God and God alone is our highest good and our supreme treasure - not health, wealth, or the removal of sickness. Our confidence is in our eternal inheritance purchased through the work of Christ and is guaranteed by the indwelling work of the Holy Spirit.’ The resolution asserts that Christians must ‘guard against false teaching and false prophets who come to us in sheep's clothing.’
The US House of Representatives has voted through a series of measures regulating the sale of guns. The new measures would bar sales of semiautomatic weapons to people under 21 and ban large-capacity magazines. But Republican opposition in the Senate means the bill has little chance of entering law, despite a renewed focus on gun control in the wake of a series of mass shootings. Hours before the vote, survivors of the Uvalde school shooting gave emotional testimony to lawmakers which reduced some to tears. The primary school shooting in the Texan city claimed the lives of 21 people, including 19 young children. One 11-year-old girl said she had smeared her classmate's blood on herself to play dead, and graphically described the moment the gunman shot her teacher in the head. Breaking news: on 9 June a gunman killed three and injured many others, yet another example of what the debate is about: see
On 24 May, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos entered Robb Elementary School in Texas, armed with a handgun and a rifle. He killed nineteen pupils and two teachers before he himself was shot dead. This was the deadliest school attack for a decade. Amid the outpouring of shock and grief, Joe Biden asked, ‘Why do we keep letting this happen? Why are we willing to live with this carnage?’ This tragedy has reignited the debate about guns, particularly since there had already been 27 other school shootings this year. Since his election, the president has made a number of pledges to tighten legislation, but he faces an uphill battle to convert any of them into action, given the fierce opposition from the Republicans and the powerful gun lobby.