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July thru September, 2017


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Sep. 30, 2017

Today is the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur.  It is the highest Sabbath during the Hebraic year, and this year it also happens to fall on the regular weekly Sabbath.  Today also is the final day of the 40-day season of Teshuvah, a major period of repentance, asking God for forgiveness and returning to a meaningful relationship with Him.

       
15-second slideshow

God ordained this day in ancient Israel for the high priest to enter the Most Holy Place in the tabernacle, and later the temple.  He was to make atonement for his sins and for the sins of the people (Leviticus 16:1-34).

Later, God also told Moses that this Day of Atonement was to be a special day of commemoration.  It was to be a day of sacred assembly, a day to deny oneself (for instance, to abstain from eating), and a day to refrain from work (Leviticus 23:26-32).

I have been abstaining from food since sunset last evening, which is when Yom Kippur began.  I will be fasting for 25 hours.  I have no work to do today (unless typing with my fingertips is considered to be work).

I believe that Yeshua/Jesus will return to earth, to begin to rule and reign, on a future Yom Kippur, at the end of the 70th Week.  Here are two email responses I have written in the past having to do with Yom Kippur:


Sep. 28, 2017

U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (LA) returned to Capitol Hill today.  This is 3½ months after he was almost assassinated on Flag Day, June 17.

In an address to the House, Scalise indicated that his prayers for recovery had been answered.  He said, “I am definitely a living example that miracles really do happen.”

Steve Scalise returns to Congress, says he is
'a living example that miracles really do happen'


Sep. 26, 2017

Alabama's GOP Senate primary runoffIn Alabama today, the runoff election for the U.S. Senate seat took place.  Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore ran against present Senator Luther Strange.

Strange was appointed to the Senate seat early this year by then-Governor Robert Bentley.  This happened after Senator Jeff Sessions was confirmed as U.S. Attorney General by President Trump.

Trump had been campaigning for Luther Strange to win the Senate seat.  However, in the runoff election, Moore beat Strange 54.6% to 45.4%.  Moore is a very conservative Christian who honors the Ten Commandments and believes in traditional marriage.

Conservative candidate crushes Trump-backed
rival for Alabama's Republican Senate nomination

In his acceptance speech (beginning at the 1:30 point), Roy Moore focused on God.  He said, “I believe we can make America great, but we must make America good, and you cannot make America good without acknowledging the sovereign source of that goodness: the sovereign source of our law, liberty, and government, which is Almighty God.”

Moore also said, “We are one nation under God, and we can become one nation unified.”  Those statements are words of wisdom.


Sep. 25, 2017

Insults and threats between the U.S. president and the North Korean dictator have been escalating for awhile, especially during the past week.  On Sep. 19, in front of the United Nations General Assembly, Donald Trump referred to Kim Jong Un as “Rocket Man.”  A few days ago, Kim Jong Un threatened to detonate a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean.

Two days ago, the U.S. flew bombers and fighter escorts to the farthest point north of the Demilitarized Zone by any such American aircraft this century.  The Pentagon said the mission showed how seriously President Trump takes North Korea’s “reckless behavior.”

Yesterday, a 90-second video was released on the DPRK Today news site (see translated site).  The propaganda video depicted the destruction of the U.S. Air Force and the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier.

Today, North Korea’s foreign minister, Ri Yong-ho, said that Trump’s statements were “a declaration of war” against his country.  Ri Yong-ho also said, “Since the U.S. declared war on our country, we have the right to shoot down U.S. bombers in our airspace.”

North Korea blows up US aircraft carrier,
bombers, jets in new propaganda video

It makes me wonder how close we might be to someone firing a first shot.  Perhaps it would be in the category of events that I suggested might happen in my Sep. 24 entry.  If so, I dread to think about what could happen after that.


Sep. 24, 2017

Yesterday, Shabbat Shuvah or “Sabbath of Return,” was day 33 of the 40-day season of Teshuvah.  It was a critical day accentuating the importance of our repentance and turning toward the one, true God and rejecting the countless “gods” of this messed-up world that distract us from Him.

Here is God’s First Commandment:

You shall have no other gods before [or besides] me. (Exodus 20:3)
Long ago, God told Moses that after he died, his people (Israel) would “prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land” that they would be entering.  They also would forsake God and break the covenant that He had made with them.  Then God would forsake them and hide His face from them; as a result, many disasters, difficulties and destruction would come upon them.
And the LORD said to Moses: “You are going to rest with your fathers, and these people [Israel] will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering.  They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them.  On that day I will become angry with them and forsake them; I will hide my face from them, and they will be destroyed.  Many disasters and difficulties will come upon them, and on that day they will ask, ‘Have not these disasters come upon us because our God is not with us?’  And I will certainly hide my face on that day because of all their wickedness in turning to other gods.” (Deuteronomy 31:16-18)
Some examples of God’s punishment doled out upon Israel, and eventually upon the nations, are included in Deuteronomy 32:1-43.  It is a passage that was read during many Rosh haShanah services this past week.

It is important to study and understand what happened to Israel in ancient times because it is representative of what eventually happens to all of the nations of the earth.  When the people and leaders of Israel were focused on God and did their best to please and honor Him, realizing that He was their one and only God, He greatly blessed and exalted that nation.

However, when Israel—God’s chosen people (Deuteronomy 7:6; 1 Peter 2:9)—embraced and turned to the false gods of other peoples and nations, they were rejecting the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel).  Then He became very angry with them; He hid His face from them and rejected them.  Whenever that happened, Israel paid an extremely high price and an exceedingly heavy penalty for forsaking the one, true God.

Yesterday also was a day that the sign in the sky: September 23, 2017 of the constellations Virgo and Leo occurred.  If indeed this was a prophetic depiction of Revelation 12:1,2, then I feel it most likely was a strong—and perhaps a final—urging by God for everyone to do the following:
  • turn away from all of the false, counterfeit gods of the world;
  • recognize, repent and turn away from their sins and transgressions; and
  • embrace, turn toward and pray to the one, true and only God and the Creator and Sustainer of all things, asking him for forgiveness and guidance to do His will.

Unfortunately, I do not sense that the people of the United States, as a whole, have done any of the above.  On the contrary, I see great polarity, major divisions and disunity in this country.

William Penn, founder of the Province of Pensylvania in 1681, said this: “Men must be governed by God, or they will be ruled by tyrants.”  Our society has strayed from the Godly foundations on which we were built a few hundred years ago.  We became a great nation because “we the people” respected law and order and revered the real God, keeping Him #1.  Now, in general, those things are the exceptions rather than the rule.  Instead, our gods tend to be money and riches, fancy things, fame, power, nature, other people and ourselves, as well as false spiritual gods.

Thus, because we have rejected God and embraced false gods as Israel did long ago, I fear it is only a matter of time before God is going to forsake and reject us.  We will pay a very high price and will be greatly penalized, and the rest of the world will follow suit.  I feel that these very likely will be some of the resulting consequences:

  • more major hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, fires, volcanic eruptions and other natural disasters;
  • shortages of food, water, gasoline, medications, electric power and other necessities (see Adversity Supplies);
  • spreading of contagious illnesses, including incurable maladies and diseases;
  • increased clashes and battles between and among ethnic groups and nations;
  • social and economic collapse;
  • dimished value and use of cash, credit cards and debit cards;
  • lawlessness, terrorist attacks and criminal atrocities; and
  • nuclear detonations.

Recent disasters that have taken place in the U.S. during this season of Teshuvah—including gigantic and disastrous hurricanes Harvey (striking Texas), Irma (striking Florida) and Maria (striking Puerto Rico), as well as over 120 huge and destructive fires in the northwest U.S.—appear to be stark warnings by God.  It also appears that Mexico is another nation in the western hemisphere that has been warned, with devastating 8.1, 7.1 and 6.1 earthquakes, just this month.  All of these appear to be serious alerts by God to repent and and to turn back to Him...or else!

It could be that activity by the enormous red dragon, or Satan, shown in Revelation 12:3,4, has begun.  If so, it would appear that an infestation of evil angelic beings into the world is imminent or perhaps may happen over the next six months.  In that case, I suspect that the world, as a whole, can begin to expect unprecedented catastrophes, calamities and cataclysms in the relatively near future and beyond.  I hope my suspicions are unfounded; but, if not, horrendous and dreadful times are coming.


Sep. 23, 2017

Shabbat ShuvahToday is Shabbat Shuvah, which means “Sabbath of Return.”  It always is the Sabbath between Rosh haShanah (the Feast of Trumpets) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement).  Shabbath Shuvah also is a play on the phrase “Shabbat Teshuvah” or Sabbath of Repentance.

This is a day of reflection leading up to the highest holy day of Yom Kippur, which is a week from today.  It is a time of penitence, seeking reconciliation with God, knowing that we have fallen short of His high expectations.  It takes place during the Days of Awe, which are the final 10 days of the season of Teshuvah.

People have been talking for years about the sign in the sky: September 23, 2017.  Many believe that, today, the configuration of the constellations Virgo and Leo will be the fulfillment of Revelation 12:1,2.  On the other hand, others feel that all of this is meaningless hype that has gotten many people worked up over nothing.

As for me, I will be looking to see what happens in the world in the following days, weeks and months.  If there is a significant increase of natural and manmade disasters in the world, I will be more inclined to think that we are nearing the final 3½ years of this age—at the end of which Yeshua/Jesus will return to rule and reign over the whole world.  That is something I look forward to more than anything else, because only He can rule with pure righteousness, justice, fairness and love.


Sep. 22, 2017

Rosh haShanah, Yom Teruah or Feast of Trumpets is observed for two days each year.  Today is the second day.  This also is the first day of autumn, which began at 1:02 PDT = 4:02 EDT.

       

       
25-second slideshow

Sep. 21, 2017

shofar or ram's hornToday is the Feast of Trumpets, which actually began yesterday evening at sunset.  It also is the Jewish New Year or Rosh haShanah, which means “head of the year.”  Furthermore, it is a new moon, which takes place on the first day of every Hebrew month.  This is the month of Tishrei or Tishri, the first month on the Jewish secular calendar and the seventh month on the Jewish religious calendar.

Say to the Israelites: “On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts.  Do no regular work, but present an offering made to the LORD by fire.” (Leviticus 23:24,25)

God ordained that trumpet blasts should be heard on the Feast of Trumpets (Leviticus 23:23,24; Numbers 29:1).  This referred to blasts from a shofar or ram’s horn, which still is done today.  In Jewish tradition, the final shofar blown on the Feast of Trumpets is known as “the last shofar.”

The first ten days of the first month of Tishrei, on the Hebrew calendar, are the “high holy days.”  They often are called the “days of awe” (Yamim Nora’im) or the Ten Days of Repentance.  It is a time to examine one’s ways, to repent from one’s sins and to return fully to God.

This period ends on Tishrei 10, the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur, which is the highest holy day during the Jewish year.  I believe that the Rapture of believers will occur on a future Feast of Trumpets.  I also believe that Jesus will return to earth on a future Yom Kippur, to rule and reign for 1,000 years (the Millennium).

Last night and this morning, I attended Rosh haShanah services.  They were very informative and enjoyable.  Although I am not Jewish, they all know me there because I also join them for Passover celebrations.

During the service, we read passages in the On Wings Of Awe book.  My favorite was in the eighth photo below.  I long for that time to come, which I believe will take place after the Lord returns.  I hope that it is much sooner rather than later.

       

       

       
38-second slideshow

Sep. 20, 2017

Hurricane Maria cone of probability Hurricane Maria over Puerto Rico
Hurricane Maria made a direct hit on Puerto Rico this morning with Category 4 strength of 150-155 mph sustained winds.  This was after it roared across the island of Dominica last night as a Category 5 storm.

This is the first Category 4 hurricane to hit Puerto Rico since 1932.  The intense storm has caused widespread devastation across the 110-mile-long island.  Today, virtually 100% of this U.S. territory is without power or clean water.

Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo Rossello, stated yesterday that Maria could hit “with a force and violence that we haven’t seen for several generations.  We’re going to lose a lot of infrastructure in Puerto Rico.”

Public safety commissioner, Hector Pesquera, warned, “You have to evacuate.  Otherwise, you’re going to die.  I don’t know how to make this any clearer.”

Hurricane Maria hammers Puerto Rico
with force not seen in 'modern history'


In other news, in another record high, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) closed above 22,400 for the first time.  The Dow was up 0.19% to 22,412.59, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index was up 0.06% to 2,508.24, also a record high.

Dow Jones Industrial Average record high: 22,412.59   Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index record high: 2,508.24

Sep. 19, 2017

A major 7.1 earthquake rocked central Mexico today.  It was exactly 32 years, to the day, after the 1985 Mexico City earthquake with a magnitude of 8.0.

Today’s quake was centered only 76 miles southeast of Mexico City.  This follows the whopping 8.2 Chiapas earthquake that hit off the southwest coast of Mexico less than two weeks ago, on Sep. 7.

Calculations show that over 30 million people would have felt moderate to severe shaking from today’s quake.  So far, 139 people are reported to have died in today’s quake.  Unfortunately, that number is expected to increase substantially as more people are found buried in the rubble.

At Least 139 Dead After 7.1-Magnitude
Earthquake Shakes Mexico


In other news, President Donald Trump gave his first address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York City today.  Much of what he said was directed at “rogue regimes” in the world, including Islamic terrorists, Iran, Syria, North Korea and Venezuela.  Here are some things that he said about each one in his 40-minute speech:

  • “We will stop radical Islamic terrorism because we cannot allow it to tear up our nation and indeed to tear up the entire world.  We must deny the terrorists safe haven, transit funding and any form of support for the vile and sinister ideology.”
  • “The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.  Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it, believe me.”
  • “The actions of the criminal regime of Bashar al-Assad, including the use of chemical weapons, against his own citizens, even innocent children, shock the conscience of every decent person.”
  • “The United States has great strength and patience.  But if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”
  • “The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.  From the Soviet Union to Cuba, Venezuela—wherever through socialism or communism has been adopted—it has delivered anguish, devastation, and failure.  Those who preach the tenets of these discredited ideologies only contribute to the continued suffering of the people who live under these cruel systems.  America stands with every person living under a brutal regime.”

UN speech: Trump says 'Rocket Man' Kim Jong Un
on 'suicide mission,' in broadside at 'rogue regimes'


Sep. 18, 2017

In another record high, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) closed above 22,300 for the first time.  The Dow was up 0.28% to 22,331.35, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index was up 0.15% to 2,503.87, also a record high.

Dow Jones Industrial Average record high: 22,331.35   Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index record high: 2,503.87


In other news, I suspect that most Americans are unaware that, over a period of months, 21 U.S. diplomats in Cuba have been harmed by something unknown.  Some felt strange vibrations or heard loud noises before their unexplained health problems began.

Here are some of the medically confirmed symptoms experienced by several American diplomats:

hearing loss (permanent in some cases)
concussions
nausea
headaches
  ear-ringing
difficulty concentrating
dizziness
loss of balance

Even a few Canadian diplomats have come down with symptoms.  Investigations have not revealed any clear cause of what is causing these things to happen.  This article provides more information about this mystery:

Cuba mystery: What theories
US investigators are pursuing

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has indicated that the U.S. Embassy in Cuba may have to be closed.

Tillerson Says U.S. May Close Cuba
Embassy Over Mystery Ailments

Sep. 15, 2017

Large solar flareThe sun goes through regular solar cycles of activity.  A typical cycle of solar radiation and ejection of solar material or “flares” lasts about 11 years.

Solar flares emit x-rays and UV radiation that can affect Earth’s ionosphere and disrupt long-range radio communications.  Also, the operation of radars and other devices can be disturbed.

During a solar maximum, scientists usually expect to see the highest level of sunspots and solar flares.  That point of maximum activity in the present solar cycle was in 2014, and since then the solar activity has been declining.

However, two huge X-class flares (with the highest level of intensity) recently were released from the sun, on Sep. 6 and on Sep. 10.  The amount of energy released was comparable to that of a billion hydrogen bombs.  The first flare was the strongest flare seen in over 12 years.

This increased flare activity is very unusual and unexpected.  Most likely this strong activity will end soon, but who knows?

Earth dodges a cosmic
bullet — for now


In other news, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) hit another record high today.  It was up 0.29% to 22,268.34.

However, I mainly was focused on the point when the Dow was at 22,222.22.  To understand why, you can read my Feb. 22, 2016 entry.  I have sent the following two images to my “222” friend:

Dow Jones Industrial Average: 22,222.22   Dow Jones Industrial Average record high: 22,268.34

Sep. 14, 2017

In another record high, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) closed above 22,200 for the first time.  The Dow was up 0.20% to 22,203.48, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index was down 0.11% to 2,495.62 from its record high yesterday of 2,498.37.

Dow Jones Industrial Average record high: 22,203.48   Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index: 2,495.62

Sep. 11, 2017

Honoring our heroes: 9/11 16th anniversaryThe events sixteen years ago on September 11, 2001, were a stern warning to America from God.  However, over the years, the enormity of that day seems to have been discounted, and not many continue to heed God’s admonition.

I am reminded of ancient Judah.  Josiah, one of the last kings of Judah, began to reign at the young age of 8 years old.  During the majority of the 31 years that he reigned, he kept God foremost in all that he did.  Nevertheless, the destruction of Judah, at the hands of the Babylonians (2 Kings 25:8-11), already had been determined by God; and even a near-perfect king could not change God’s mind.

This is what the LORD says:  I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people, according to everything written in the book the king of Judah has read.  Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and provoked me to anger by all the idols their hands have made, my anger will burn against this place and will not be quenched. (2 Kings 22:16,17)

Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the LORD as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.  Nevertheless, the LORD did not turn away from the heat of his fierce anger, which burned against Judah because of all that Manasseh had done to provoke him to anger. (2 Kings 23:25,26)

You can read the account of King Josiah in 2 Kings 22:1 through 23:30 and in 2 Chronicles 34:1 through 35:27.  Basically, the stiff-necked, foolish people and most of their leaders had forsaken God and had worshiped other gods.  They were not going to repent and alter their allegiance and behavior, though they were implored repeatedly by God to do so (2 Chronicles 36:14-16).

The most righteous king who ever ruled over Judah humbled himself and reformed the official policies of the nation to conform to the Book of the Law of the Lord, given through Moses; yet God would not recind His inexorable judgment on the nation.  This was because the king could not change the minds and hearts of the people.  Collectively, they might have been able to change God’s mind by humbling themselves before Him, seeking His face, and turning from their evil ways (2 Chronicles 7:14); but they would not.

I feel that not only the USA but all the nations on earth are in the same boat.  Most of humanity has rejected the one true King and Creator of the universe: YHWH or YHVH ().  The people of the world have gone their own stubborn ways, worshiping countless worldly idols and false gods, and there will be an exceedingly high price to pay for this.

We now are halfway through the 40-day season of Teshuvah.  At sunset in ten days, Rosh haShanah will begin.  The next ten days after that, ending on Yom Kippur, are the “Days of Awe”—the ultimate period of repentance and turning back to God.  This year, during that time, there will be a sign in the sky: September 23, 2017.  It will take place on Shabbat Shuvah: the “Sabbath of Return.”

Two major hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, as well as over 140 massive wildfires, have taken place during this season of Teshuvah.  It could be that the sign(s) in the sky on Sep. 23—if indeed they are prophetic indicators of Revelation 12:1-4—will be the final warning to the U.S., as a nation, to turn back to God.  If this does not happen, even worse events may take place over the next few weeks and months.


Sep. 10, 2017

Probable path of Hurricane IrmaThis morning, Hurricane Irma made its first landfall in Florida on Cudjoe Key as a Category 4 storm.  This afternoon, it weakened to a Category 3 storm and made a second landfall on Marco Island, Florida.  As of this evening, more than 3.3 million homes and businesses in Florida had lost power.

Most of Florida’s major airports—including those in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and Orlando—were closed today.  The state’s evacuation zones encompass a staggering 6.4 million people, or more than 1 in 4 people in the state.  This is the first time on record that the continental U.S. has had two Category 4 hurricane landfalls, Harvey and Irma, in the same year.

Tonight, Irma is almost 400 miles wide and will affect the entire state of Florida before continuing northward.  Over the next few days, it is expected to continue as a tropical storm and then a tropical depression into Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, Kentucky and Illinois.

3 Million People Are Without Power
in Florida Due to Hurricane Irma

Sep. 9, 2017

Equifax is a consumer credit reporting agency in the U.S.  It handles data on more than 820 million consumers.  It is one of the three largest American credit reporting agencies, along with Experian and TransUnion.

A couple of days ago, Equifax announced that they had experienced a cybersecurity breach between mid-May and late July.  Potentially, approximately 143 million U.S. consumers could be at risk for some type of identity theft.  This is over 40% of the U.S. population.

Information including names, addresses, birth dates, social security numbers and other personal identification data was taken.  It is one of the largest cybersecurity incidents in history.  More information can be found at the LifeLock website here:

Equifax Data Breach Affects Millions
of Consumers. Here’s What to Do.

I’m afraid that crimes like this will continue to increase.  Eventually, credit and debit cards may become useless, and that will be just the tip of the iceberg of inconvenience and hassles for consumers.


Sep. 8, 2017

The U.S. House of Representatives has voted 319 to 90 to suspend the government’s debt limit for 3 months.  This keeps the government open through Dec. 8.

Today’s vote follows a 80-17 vote in the U.S. Senate yesterday to raise the debt ceiling.  Presumably, the bill will be approved and signed by President Trump, who engaged in talks with Democrat leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi to help get the deal made.

This is part of a package that also will provide about $22 billion for FEMA’s disaster relief fund, $15.25 billion of which is new, emergency provisions, mostly for relief from extensive hurricane damage.  Another $6.7 billion already was slated to be in the spending measure that funds the government.

Congress Sends Debt Ceiling,
Hurricane Aid Package to Trump

All of this reflects a very bad habit of “kicking the debt can down the road” year after year.  Today, the U.S. Debt Clock indicates that this nation’s debt exceeds $19,977 trillion.

Indeed, it seems to be one of the prevalent defects in human nature to be in debt.  However, it always is advantageous for that tendency to be overcome, and it often is disastrous when it is not—not only on a personal level but on a national level.

Anyone who thinks that the ever-increasing U.S. debt is “no big deal” is living in a fantasy.  Moreover, anyone who thinks that the national debt ever will be decreased substantially also is living in a fantasy.  That unpopular but vitally important process needed to begin years ago, but it was not.

I feel that, at some point, it is inevitable for the “debt collectors” to come calling.  Then there very well may be a substantial crash of the stock market, as well as a devastating economic collapse.  Significant disasters like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and massive fires in western states, along with others to come, certainly do not help the situation.

Incidentally, although it should not affect the U.S. economy, last night’s giant Chiapas earthquake in Mexico was very significant.  With a whopping 8.2 magnitude, it is the second largest quake ever to hit Mexico, surpassed only by a gigantic 8.6 temblor in 1787.

We still are in the season of Teshuvah.  With no widespread repentance and turning toward God apparently taking place in America, I cannot help but suspect that more disasters and cataclysms may be coming.  I hope I am wrong.


Sep. 7, 2017

Hurricane Irma has caused massive destruction in Barbuda and other Caribbean islands.Hurricane Irma has left behind numerous deaths and almost a million people without power in the Caribbean.  The eye of the Category 5 storm passed over the island of Barbuda, where over 90 percent of the buildings suffered serious damage and roughly 60 percent of the residents were left homeless.  Much of the island is under water.

The center of Irma passed about 50 miles north of Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory.  The island was pummeled with heavy wind and rain, leaving almost 50,000 without water and about 900,000 without power.  Some areas could be without power for four to six months.

This very intense storm is expected to make landfall on the southern Florida Keys Saturday evening or Sunday morning, Sep. 9 or 10, as a Category 4 hurricane.  Over the following 24 hours, the center of the storm probably will make its way up through the state, with most of those who have not evacuated experiencing hurricane-force winds.

Hurricane Katia in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean Sea and Hurricane Jose in the Atlantic OceanAfter pounding Florida, the storm will continue north into Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and nearby states.  Several million people in Florida already have evacuated or are expected to do so.  Potentially, Irma could be the most potent Atlantic hurricane ever.

A satellite photo has taken rare photos of three hurricanes at once.  Hurricane Katia is in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Irma is in the Caribbean Sea and Hurricane Jose is in the Atlantic Ocean.  Jose appears to be following a similar track to Irma.

Irma's projected path shifts west;
Florida more firmly in crosshairs

Sep. 6, 2017

Wildfire smoke drifting across the U.S. Wildfire smoke drifting across the U.S.
There presently are over 80 large wildfires burning in nine western states: California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado.  Numerous active-duty soldiers are being deployed to help with fighting the fires.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stated that the smokey air in many of these states has become very hazardous  The smoke from these fires, being released into atmosphere, contains chemicals—such as benzene, methanol and ozone—that are very harmful to breathe.  Furthermore, people are having to wear masks in many areas, trying to avoid inhaling the excessive amount of falling ash.

However, the massive amount of smoke is not confined to the nine states in which the fires are burning.  The jet stream is carrying a large quantity of wildfire smoke southward and eastward across the United States, including into the Midwest.

US wildfires force officials to
mobilize active-duty infantry

Sep. 5, 2017

Hurricane Irma is churning in the Atlantic Ocean as a very strong Category 5 strong.  Its maximimum sustained winds are 185 mph, tying it with three other second strongest Atlantic tropical hurricanes ever—next to Allen in 1980, which had 190 mph winds.

The hurricane is expected to do extensive damage in Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba.  Florida already has declared a state of emergency, and store shelves in many places are bare.

Irma could make landfall in southern Florida as a Category 4 hurricane.  One estimated track of Irma is up the east coast of Florida, and another track is up Florida’s west coast.

Hurricane Irma strengthens to
Category 5: Puerto Rico, Florida brace

Sep. 4, 2017

Today is Labor Day in the United States.  It always is the first Monday in September, and it is the last national holiday during the summer season.  In Canada, Labour Day also is celebrated on the first Monday in September.

The New York legislature was the first state legislature to introduce a Labor Day bill.  However, Oregon was the first state to make Labor Day an official public holiday in 1887.

By the time it became an official federal holiday in 1894, thirty U.S. states observed Labor Day.  More information about this day can be found at the United States Department of Labor website here:

History of Labor Day

       
15-second slideshow

Sep. 3, 2017

Magnitude 6.3 nuclear explosion in North Korea Magnitude 6.3 nuclear explosion in North Korea
I noticed a 6.3 earthquake listed on USGS Earthquakes site, which I monitor everyday.  However, later I discovered that it actually was a Magnitude 6.3 Explosion — 22km ENE of Sungjibaegam, North Korea.

The explosion was caused by the detonation of a hydrogen bomb that South Korean officials estimated to be about 50 kilotons in strength.  The shaking from the bomb was felt also in China and Russia.  This was North Korea’s sixth nuclear test since 2006 and their most powerful nuclear explosion ever.

In response, the army and air force of South Korea joined in a combined live-fire drill.  It involved surface-to-surface ballistic missiles and F-15K fighter jets hitting targets off the east coast of South Korea.  This was to simulate a strike on a target as far away as North Korea’s nuclear test site, Punggye-ri.

South Korea conducts live-fire exercises
in response to North Korea nuclear test

Aug. 31, 2017

Since Aug. 25, the storm that began as Hurricane Harvey has killed 41 people in southeast Texas.  In Cedar Bayou, Texas, 51.88 inches of rain have fallen.  This breaks the record for the most rainfall in the continental U.S.

Hurricane Harvey is the worst rainfall disaster in US
history — this interactive map shows how bad it was

The amount of damage in the Houston area is unfathomable.  This storm is continuing on into Louisiana, which also is getting soaked.  There is little doubt that Harvey will become the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, surpassing that of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.


Aug. 28, 2017

Center of Tropical Storm Harvey back in the Gulf of MexicoTropical Storm (formerly Hurricane) Harvey has been relentless since Aug. 25 in pouring trillions of gallons on southeastern Texas.  Today, as predicted, the center of the storm moved back off the coast into the Gulf of Mexico.

However, it is expected to make landfall again and then move to the northeast.  Houston, the fourth most populous city in the U.S., will continue getting devastated by unprecedented flooding over the next few days.  Then Harvey most likely will continue moving further northeast into Louisiana.

Hurricane Harvey: What
Happened and What's Next

Samaritan's Purse Emergency AlertSome are saying that by the time this storm has run its course, it could be the most destructive and most costly natural disaster in U.S. history.  A great deal of concentrated prayer is needed for the millions of people in southeastern Texas affected by this catastrophe.

There are numerous worthy organizations accepting donations for the Hurricane Harvey disaster.  Donations to these organizations offering aid will be helpful in providing relief to those adversely affected by this horrendous storm.

I have donated money to Samaritan’s Purse for Hurricane Harvey disaster relief.  I know that this organization, now under the direction of Franklin Graham (son of Billy Graham), has been faithfully committed for decades to helping those experiencing disasters around the world.


Aug. 26, 2017

Although I have no pets, I like other people’s dogs and cats.  Usually, they like me once they realize that I will pet and scratch them into a state of utter bliss and euphoria.

Today is National Dog Day.  I like the quotations on the following page, as well as the photos of the dogs:

National Dog Day 2017: Quotes And Cute
Photos Celebrating Man's Best Friend

Aug. 25, 2017

Hurricane Harvey made landfall at Rockport, Texas, on the gulf coast tonight.  It is a major Category 4 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale.  Sustained winds are 130 mph.

Harvey is the strongest storm to hit the Texas coast since Hurricane Ike in 2008.  It also is the strongest storm to hit the U.S since 2005.

Hurricane Harvey makes landfall, packing
130-mph winds — here's what you need to know

Some have predicted that Harvey will travel several miles inland, approach San Antonio, and then head back into the Gulf of Mexico.  Then it is predicted to make landfall again and head northeast toward Houston.  The wind and rain will be around for days.

       
15-second slideshow

Most likely, this hurricane will be dumping catastrophic amounts of rain the whole time it is around, and unprecedented flooding is expected to occur in many areas.  While driving, a good thing to keep in mind is, “Don’t drown; turn around!”

Probably hundreds of thousands of people will lose power.  Countless people may not be able to return to their homes for weeks.  It looks like parts of Texas will be extremely messy and inconvenienced for awhile.


Aug. 22, 2017

This is the first full day of the season of Teshuvah, which began yesterday at sunset.  It is a 40-day season each year, with the first 30 days (the “days of repentance”) extending to Rosh haShanah = Feast of Trumpets and the final 10 days (the “days of awe”) ending on Yom Kippur = Day of Atonement.

Most likely, this was the period of time when Jesus was in the desert and being tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1-11).  Yet He resisted all of Satan’s temptations, which was an example to all who believe in Him and follow Him.

During this time, people are to examine their lives, repent of their sins and transgressions, turn back to God in revival and with refreshing and be restored back to an active relationship with God and with other people, with whom relationships may have been damaged.  A common chapter in the Bible to read during this time is Psalm 51:1-19.

In Hebrew (translated into English), the following is read each day (from right to left):

Plea to God during the season of Teshuvah

I am concerned that the total solar eclipse, which crossed over the U.S. yesterday, could have been a warning, by God, for the nation to repent and turn back to God.  Much of the U.S. has strayed significantly from the Lord’s ordinances, precepts and tenets upon which it was founded.

Furthermore, my concern will be magnified by the appearance of the sign in the sky next month, on September 23, which many feel is a prophetic fulfillment of the first few verses of Revelation 12.  Presumably, if that is true, there will be many negative ramifications of this.

The U.S. seems to be more polarized than ever since the time of the Civil War.  I fear that the eclipse might be a final warning to the U.S to “put on the brakes,” to turn around, and to embrace the conservative and honorable values put forth by our forefathers and found in our Constitution.  Otherwise, it very well could be that God’s judgment may fall on this nation, and there is nothing more unpleasant than that.


Aug. 21, 2017

Today, the “Great American Total Solar Eclipse” took place, from coast to coast.  There were viewing parties and festivals throughout the country.  Several million people were very excited to be able to see it.  For many or most of those in the zone of totality, it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to view a total eclipse of the sun.

My friend Barry, in Marin County, planned for over a year to travel up to northwest Oregon to see the eclipse.  He had wanted me to go; but there was no way I was going to fly up there and then drive with him over 1,600 miles, round-trip, just to see the totality event, which lasted a couple of minutes.  I’m glad that another friend was able to go with him.

They have emailed me to say that the whole eclipse, from start to finish, was awesome.  They both had the proper ISO 12312-12 solar filters to view it.

Below is a sequence of slides, which are part of a video that I found at the timeanddate.com website.  They show the eclipse, from start to finish, in Salem, the capital city of Oregon.  It was one of the first cities in the nation to see the totality phase of the eclipse.

       

       

       

       

       
25-second slideshow

Where I was, in a partial eclipse location, I did not look up at the eclipse.  Instead, I made a pinhole in a piece of paper, let the eclipsed sun shine through it, and looked at the image on another surface.  I also enjoyed seeing images of the eclipsed sun shining through tree leaves onto the ground.  That was pretty cool.

         
15-second slideshow

My friend Jesse, in Arkansas, had the same idea with the leaves.  Click on this image to see the full photo that he took:

Solar eclipse images shining through tree leaves

Aug. 20, 2017

Tomorrow, the “Great American Total Solar Eclipse” will take place.  The United States will be the only nation in the world crossed by the zone of totality, from Oregon to South Carolina.

Total solar eclipse pathway across the United States, August 21, 2017

People in all other locations of the U.S., including Alaska and Hawaii, will see a partial solar eclipse.  NASA stresses that eclipse watchers make sure that their solar glasses or filters are from an approved manufacturer and have an ISO icon with reference 12312-2 certification.

Incidentally, invisible ultraviolet solar radiation comes around the edges of the moon, even when the sun is completely covered by the moon.  So it is not a good idea to look at the total eclipse for more than a couple of seconds, even if no visible sunlight can be seen.See more details in my July 24 entry.


Aug. 19, 2017

Scammers are everywhere.  Some of them call our phones.  If we pick up, sometimes a real person will talk or a recording will leave a message.  Other times when we pick up, there is silence.  In the latter case, they often just want to know if our phone number is valid, and they will share it with other scammers.

Sometimes, when we pick up, scammers will ask us questions.  This often is to retrieve personal information about us, such as our name, mailing address, and even social security number.  A great many identity thefts occur this way.

I like the following website, where I can type in suspicious phone numbers that appear on my caller ID.  Often, I can see what other people have written about that number:

http://800notes.com

There also are email scammers.  Some promise to send money if personal information is provided.  Others provide links to click on, and clicking on such links will go to web locations where destructive viruses and malware will be downloaded onto our computers.  Here is some good information about such emails:

Spot an email virus

I have used the information in the “Skip Shady Links” section (above) for a very long time.  When I receive an email that is the least bit suspicious, I hover my arrow (which turns into a hand) over the link, and this reveals the actual address of the link (usually at the bottom/left of the browser window).

Below is an image of an email I received from a scammer saying that my “American Express account has been shortlisted for maintenance.”  I immediately knew it was a scam because I do not have an American Express account.

I went ahead and moved my arrow over the link (without clicking on it).  The information revealed that the link went to somewhere at the uniwebcanada.com website, which has nothing to do with American Express.  There is no possible way that I was going to click on that link.

Scam American Express email

Aug. 18, 2017

Stephen BannonStephen Bannon, who was Donald Trump’s chief strategist and advisor, left his position at the White House today.  He also had been the architect of Donald Trump’s 2016 election victory.

Bannon has returned to his former post as executive chairman of the conservative website Breitbart News.  He also has said that he remains committed to helping Trump fulfill his agenda, despite opposition from Democrats and even from members of Trump’s own Republican party.

Trump has tweeted, “I want to thank Steve Bannon for his service.  He came to the campaign during my run against Crooked Hillary Clinton — it was great!  Thanks S.”

Bannon Says He's 'Going to War
for Trump' After White House Exit


In other news, Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) has stated, in a lengthy Facebook entry, “It feels like violence is coming.”  This is one week after the terrible and divisive protests and counter-protests took place in Charlottesville, VA.

Senator Ben Sasse: 'Feels
Like Violence Is Coming'

I think that Senator Sasse has made some good points.  The U.S. is more polarized than I’ve ever seen it, and this is extremely concerning to me.  I am very apprehensive that we may be headed for a great deal more violence and instability in the months to come.


Aug. 17, 2017

There were two terror attacks in Spain today.  The first was in Barcelona.  A few hours later, there was another one in Cambrils.

Many were killed, and over 100 were injured.  ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Several killed in Spain anti-terror
operation after Barcelona attack

In response to the radical Islamic terrorism in Spain, there was a substantial drop in the U.S. stock market.  It makes me wonder how far it will fall when there are more attacks in the U.S., which there will be.

Dow Jones Industrial Average
Standard and Poor’s 500
NASDAQ
NASDAQ 100
NYSE
 down 274.14 points to 21,750.73
down 38.10 points to 2,430.01
down 123.30 points to 6,221.91
down 121.10 points to 5,796.32
down 156.13 points to 11,712.72

There has not been an Islamic terrorist attack in Spain since April 3, 2004.  In Madrid, seven terrorists killed over 200 train commuters.

The following chart shows the hundreds cases of Islamic terror attacks in Europe and Russia since 2001.  It seems that the number of these incidents is escalating each year.  I expect that they will continue increasing.

Islamic Terror in Europe and Russia since 2001

Aug. 14, 2017

Map of total solar eclipse in OregonIn my July 24 entry, I described the solar eclipse that will cross the United States one week from today on Aug. 21.  For people living near the path of totality, NASA has provided maps of the event here:

NASA Total Eclipse Maps

On the maps, the width of the path of totality is 70 miles.  However, it has been determined that the northern and southern edges of the path are not as precise as initially thought.  This is because current measurements of the size of the sun are not exact, since the sun is a huge ball of gas rather than a solid object with a non-varying surface.

So the edges of the path may be off as little as the length of a football field or as much as a half-mile.  So the path of totality may be more like 69 miles wide.

Basically, all of the maps are off to some extent.  This is according to Mike Kentrianakis, the solar eclipse project manager for the American Astronomical Society, who routinely consults with NASA.

Therefore, people who think they are going to be just within the edge of the path of totality may be disappointed to discover that they are not.  They may see a partial eclipse rather than a total eclipse.  Eclipse experts say that observing a 99.9% partial eclipse is not nearly as spectacular as viewing a 100% total eclipse.

Solar eclipse maps are
not exact, scientists say

Aug. 12, 2017

Solar eclipse glassesThe great American solar eclipse will take place on Mon., Aug. 21.  Today, Amazon has said that it will be issuing refunds to many of those who have purchased solar eclipse glasses.  The reason is that many of the “protective” eclipse glasses are from irreputable manufacturers and may be fakes.

Customers who purchased these glasses will receive refunds.  Along with the refunds will be warning notifications not to use the glasses.  The notifications also say that customers do not need to return the glasses.

Amazon is refunding purchases
of unverifiable eclipse eyewear

Aug. 11, 2017

Perseus constellationThe annual Perseid meteor shower can be viewed this year from July 13 to Aug. 26.  It can be seen in the Northern Hemisphere, and the meteors will appear to be originating from the direction of the Perseus constellation in the northern sky.

There should be optimal viewing tonight into Sat. morning, Sat. night into Sun. morning, and Sun. night into Mon. morning.  The moon is between full and half, so its light may wash out the light of some of the meteors.  As long as clouds do not block the view, as many as 100 meteors per hour, or 1 to 2 per minute, may be seen when looking up into a wide open night sky.

         
15-second slideshow

Aug. 8, 2017

From North Korea to Guam: 2,100 milesNorth Korea says that it is “carefully examining” a plan to strike Guam with a ballistic missile.  The island is a territory of the U.S. located in the western Pacific Ocean, about 2,107 miles southeast of North Korea.  A missile fired at Guam would take about 15 minutes to get there.

The threat was made hours after President Trump had responded to recent threats by North Korea, which followed the unanimous approval of Resolution 2371 by the U.N. Security Council on Aug. 5.  Trump said that North Korea “will be met with fire, fury and frankly power, the likes of which the world has never seen before.”

There also have been US B-1B bombers flying over the Korean peninsula.  The bombers flew out of Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.

North Korea considering firing
missiles at Guam, per state media

It seems that North Korea, which has tested several nuclear bombs, is capable of producing miniaturized nuclear warheads.  These could be placed on the tips of intercontinental ballistic missiles and aimed just about anywhere.  All of this definitely escalates the friction between the U.S. and North Korea to a new level.


Aug. 7, 2017

This is President Trump’s 200th day in office.  In another record high, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) closed above 22,100 for the first time.  The Dow was up 0.12% to 22,118.42, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index was up 0.16% to 2,480.91, also a record high.

Dow Jones Industrial Average record high: 22,118.42   Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index: 2,480.91

Aug. 5, 2017

The United Nations Security Council has approved Resolution 2371, which toughens sanctions on North Korea.  The US-led resolution was adopted unanimously: 15-0.

Resolution 2371 comes as a result of North Korea’s two intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests last month.  The resolution bans the selling or transferring of coal, iron, iron ore, seafood, lead and lead ore to other countries, reducing the nation’s revenue by about $1 billion.

The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, praised the new sanctions.  She told council members after the vote that it is “the single largest economic package ever leveled against the North Korean regime.”

UN Security Council imposes
new sanctions on North Korea

Security Council Toughens Sanctions Against
Democratic People's Republic of Korea,
Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2371 (2017)

Aug. 4, 2017

There have been recent discussions about the status of transsexuals in the U.S. military.  Someone sent me the following cartoon (on the left), which is a spoof of the 1998 movie Saving Private Ryan (on the right).  It’s both ludicrous and hilarious. 

Changing Ryan's Privates Saving Private Ryan

Aug. 3, 2017

On the 700 Club, one segment described how artificial sweeteners can be very detrimental to one’s health.  For instance, drinking diet sodas can cause weight gain, and drinking just one a day can triple the risk of dementia and stroke.  It also can double the risk of developing diabetes.

Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin and sucralose can disrupt our microbiome.  This is the collection of genomes of resident microorganisms in our bodies, mainly in our intestines.

Good bacteria reduce the inflammation in our brains.  However, artificial sweeteners throw off the delicate balance of the good and bad bacteria within us.  Having less good bacteria can cause a greater inflammation in our brains, resulting in multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Better choices for sweeteners are Stevia, Xylitol, Erythritol and Monk fruit (Siraitia grosvenorii).  However, they still can lead to weight gain, due to calorie disregulation in the body.

It is very possible to reduce and even eliminate one’s taste for sweets.  This can enable a person to remove most or all sweets, both real and fake, from one’s diet.

To watch the 700 Club segment about this, about 5½ minutes in length, click on the video and move your arrow along the timeline at the bottom.  The segment begins at 16:40 (click there) and ends at 22:10.


Aug. 2, 2017

Amazingly today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) closed above 22,000 for the first time.  The Dow was up 0.24% to 22,016.24, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index was up 0.05% to 2,477.57.

Dow Jones Industrial Average record high: 22,016.24   Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index: 2,477.57

The stock market has shot up more than 18% since the 2016 presidential election.  I know that many Americans are very excited about this noteworthy escalation and today’s record-high peak.

As for myself, I do not feel nearly as positive and optimistic.  I see it merely as a higher summit from which the market eventually will collapse and plummet.  The higher the peak, the harder the crash.  Ultimately, one of these days, today’s smiles will turn into frowns. 


Aug. 1, 2017

In another record high, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) closed above 21,900 for the first time.  The Dow was up 0.33% to 21,963.92, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index was up 0.24% to 2,476.35.  The Dow probably will exceed 22,000 soon, perhaps tomorrow.

Dow Jones Industrial Average record high: 21,963.92   Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index: 2,476.35

July 31, 2017

Only 10 days after Anthony Scaramucci was named as the new White House Communications Director, on July 21, he has been removed from that position.  Reports suggest that the decision was made by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who just began his new role today.

It seems that Scaramucci clashed with several members of the administration during his brief time in the White House.  Also, last week, Scaramucci went on a profanity-laced rant to a reporter against then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and aide Steve Bannon.  Plus, he vowed to crack down on White House leaks, threatening to dismiss anyone who spread private information.

Anthony Scaramucci out as White
House communications director

July 29, 2017

Today I read two interesting Islam-related articles that were posted at Fortress of Faith:

Why are Young People Attracted to Islam? | Can Muslims Read the Bible?

July 28, 2017

Very early this morning, the U.S. Senate narrowly voted against a “skinny” repeal plan of Obamacare.  All of the Democrats and three Republicans—Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK) and John McCain (AZ)—voted against the plan.

The final tally defeating H.R. 1628 was no, 51, and yes, 49.  Had one of the dissenting Republicans voted yes, the tally would have been 50-50 and Vice President Pence would have broken the tie with a yes vote, passing the measure.

Senate rejects 'skinny repeal' of
ObamaCare as 3 Republicans vote no

Following brain cancer surgery, McCain returned to Washington, DC, on July 25 to participate in the health care vote.  On that day, he voted for proceeding with further debating and voting on repealing and replacing Obamacare.  So McCain’s “no” vote early today was surprising to almost everyone, including myself.

How John McCain became the pivotal vote that
sent the GOP's healthcare efforts into disarray

Also, this afternoon, President Trump made a surprise announcement naming Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly as his new White House Chief of Staff.  Kelly will replace Reince Priebus in this position.

Reince Priebus out, John Kelly
in as White House Chief of Staff


In other news, in another record high, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) closed above 21,800 for the first time.  The Dow was up 0.15% to 21,830.31, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index was down 0.13% to 2,472.10.

Dow Jones Industrial Average record high: 21,830.31   Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index: 2,472.10

July 27, 2017

I saw this cartoon somewhere.  It seems to be pretty real-world to me.

Your Home As Seen By

July 26, 2017

In another record high, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) closed above 21,700 for the first time.  The Dow was up 0.45% to 21,711.01, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index was up 0.03% to 2,477.83, also a record high.

Dow Jones Industrial Average record high: 21,711.01   Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index record high: 2,477.83

July 25, 2017

The U.S. Senate finally voted today to move forward with debating legislation that potentially could repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.  Even John McCain (R-AZ) voted after flying about 2,300 miles from Arizona to Washington, DC, following surgery for a rare brain cancer last week.

There were 50 Republicans who voted to proceed, while no Democrats and 2 Republicans—Susan Collins (ME) and Lisa Murkowski (AK)—voted no.  Vice-president Pence voted yes to break the tie.

Senate Votes To Move Forward With Debate On
Obamacare Repeal Bill; What Happens Now?

Following the vote, Senator McCain spoke for about 15 minutes (see the text of Senator McCain’s speech).

What's next with Senate Republican's effort to repeal Obamacare

July 24, 2017

Total and partial solar eclipseExactly four weeks from today, on Aug. 21, an event will happen in the U.S. that has not taken place for over 99 years—since June 8, 1918.  A total eclipse of the sun will cross the U.S. from the west coast to the east coast.

Furthermore, it will be the first time in U.S. history that a total solar eclipse will be seen only in the U.S. and in no other country.  The total eclipse will cross over 12 states (and a tiny portion of 2 more states), from Oregon to South Carolina.

However, at least a partial solar eclipse will be viewable in all 50 states.  A partial eclipse also will be seen in Canada, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and northwestern Europe.

This short video show a great deal of information about the eclipse:

http://content.jwplatform.com/previews/TLOR1sPF-LGVHcJDb

This short video shows the pathway of the total eclipse across the U.S.:

Macular hole caused by viewing a solar eclipseGreat care must be taken if one plans to look directly at the sun during any phase of the eclipse, as permanent damage to the retinas, particularly the the maculas of the eyes, may result.  It is called solar or macular retinopathy.  This can create retinal burns or holes, causing irreversible damage and loss of central vision.

Dilated pupil and constricted pupilOrdinary sunglasses, without an ultraviolet protective coating, are ineffective in preventing retinal burns.  In fact, by reducing the amount of visible light entering the eyes, they cause the pupils to become more dilated and an increased amount of damaging ultraviolet radiation will reach the retinas.

Solar corona present even during solar eclipseTherefore, special solar filters, which help shield against UV radiation, should be used to protect the eyes.  This is true when looking at the sun while any portion of it is not covered by the moon during a solar eclipse.  In fact, invisible ultraviolet solar radiation comes around the edges of the moon, even when the sun is completely covered by the moon.  So it is not a good idea to look at the total eclipse for more than a couple of seconds, even if no direct sunlight can be seen.

The following sites provide information about the safest ways to view the total solar eclipse, whether directly or indirectly, as well as ways that the eclipse should not be viewed:

https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety

https://www.exploratorium.edu/eclipse/how-to-view-eclipse

http://www.ibtimes.com/nasa-offers-safety-tips-viewing-aug-21-solar-eclipse-2569473

Over 4,800 libraries in the country are giving away free eclipse glasses.  A map of participating libraries is on this page:

http://www.starnetlibraries.org/2017eclipse/registered-libraries-map

Many places have solar eclipse glasses available.  For instance, here are some selections at WalMart and Amazon:

https://www.walmart.com/search/?query=solar%20eclipse%20glasses&cat_id=0

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=solar+eclipse+glasses&sprefix=solar+ecli%2Caps%2C139&crid=SCOH91JUZF6M

Personally, I don’t plan to look at the eclipse directly for longer than one or two seconds, even with solar glasses or filters.  I cannot be 100% certain that anything I might put over my eyes will eliminate all of the harmful ultraviolet rays reaching my retinas, and I am not willing to take the risk.  I’d rather just watch videos of the eclipse later.


July 22, 2017

Old City of JerusalemSince the shootings in Jerusalem took place on July 14, clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian demonstrators have been raging.  Palestinians have been protesting new measures implemented by Israeli officials.

One measure is the barring of Muslim men under the age of 50 from the al-Aqsa Mosque compound.  Another is the installation of metal detectors at Temple Mount entrances.

Today, extra Israeli troops were sent into the West Bank, following the deadly stabbing attack of three Israelis yesterday.  Police disrupted stone-throwing Palestinians in Jerusalem.  It is the deadliest outbreak of violence between Israelis and Palestinians in years.

Israeli Raid, Jerusalem Clashes
Ratchet Tensions Higher

July 21, 2017

Sean Spicer
Sean Spicer
Anthony Scaramucci
Anthony Scaramucci
Sarah Huckabee Sanders
Sarah H. Sanders
The White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, resigned today.  He formally will step down from that position next month.

Spicer’s resignation comes after Anthony Scaramucci was named as the new White House Communications Director.  Sarah Huckabee Sanders will replace Sean Spicer as the new White House Press Secretary.  She is the daughter of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

Ari Fleischer, former White House Press Secretary under President George W. Bush, said that Spicer’s resignation is an “unsettling” development for President Trump’s team.  Fleischer has said that he “wouldn’t be surprised if other people leave.”  I wouldn’t either; I suspect that this may be just the beginnning.

Spicer resigns: Ex-press secretary
Fleischer calls move 'unsettling'


July 18, 2017

Passage of a new health care bill in the U.S. Senate has reached an impasse.  Senators Rand Paul (KY) and Susan Collins (ME) have stated for awhile that they would not vote for the bill.  Last night, they were joined by Jerry Moran (KS) and Mike Lee (UT), which prevents the Senate from reaching the 50-vote threshold.

Now, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is calling for a vote on “a repeal of Obamacare with a two-year delay to provide for a stable transition period to a patient-centered health care system that gives Americans access to quality, affordable care.”  President Trump agrees that “Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!”

McConnell calls for Obamacare
repeal vote after replacement plan fails

There is no straightforward process for repealing and replacing the extremely complex and complicated disaster known as Obamacare.  I suspect that it simply will experience a catastrophic collapse.  This probably will be more devastating to the U.S. healthcare system than repealing it and then working on replacing it with a new system.


July 17, 2017

Adrian RogersOne of my favorite pastors of all time was Adrian Rogers.  I used to enjoy very much listening to his messages, and I also liked his conservative views.  His recorded sermons still can be found at the Love Worth Finding website.

I was reminded of Adrian Rogers when I was emailed the following statements, which are some of his famous quotations:

  • You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.
  • What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
  • The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.
  • When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend is the beginning of the end of any nation.
  • You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.

I totally agree with all of those statements.  It seems to me, that for several years, the USA has begun to go down a path that these statements warn about.  Obamacare is a definite example of this.

The ultimate endpoint of this is what has happened to socialistic nations like Venezuela, which is in the middle of a severe socio-economic disaster with no turnaround in sight.  I don’t know if Trump and the Congress can reverse this trend or not, but I hope so.


July 15, 2017

Nabeel QureshiOn Fortress of Faith radio this morning, I listened to a 14-minute audio, with a 1½-minute introduction at the beginning by Tom Wallace.  The speaker is Nabeel Qureshi, 34, who was raised a devout Muslim who studied the Qur´an.  He has an M.D. and two M.A. degrees and is highly intelligent and very articulate.

Nabeel talks about how, growing up, he would have discussions with Christians, putting doubts in their minds about the deity of Jesus and other aspects of their faith.  He found that most Christians with whom he had conversations were unprepared to defend their faith.

In college, he met a Christian, David Wood, with whom he developed a friendship.  Their common interest was their strong convictions about their Creator and Sustainer, whether He be Allah or God.  They enjoyed debating and arguing with each other about their beliefs.

Eventually, Nabeel converted from Islam to Christianity.  Basically, while seeking after Allah, he found Jesus, which is the subject of one his books and video study:

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesusbook | video study

So, rather than practicing his profession of a medical doctor, Nabeel has made the spreading of the Gospel message about Jesus to others, including Muslims, his primary focus in life.  Additional interesting information can be found at Nabeel’s website:

http://www.nabeelqureshi.com

He has several YouTube videos here: NQMinistries.  Below is a 13-minute video, recorded less than 2 weeks ago, featuring Nabeel and his best friend David.  You can see that Nabeel has lost his hair due to treatments for advanced stomach cancer, which was diagnosed near the end of August, 2016.

Nabeel has a Go Fund Me page to help with costs related to his cancer: Nabeel Qureshi Cancer Fund.  I have no doubt at all that God is able to heal Nabeel completely and permanently of his cancer, which happens to be a very painful type when he eats or even drinks small amounts.

I will be praying that it could be God’s will for a miraculous healing to take place.  I would like to see Nabeel continue reaching countless others, including Muslims, with the saving knowledge of our Messiah, Lord and Savior Yeshua/Jesus.


July 14, 2017

Selfie of two of the assailants, posted to Facebook just prior to the attackAn attack this morning at the Lion’s Gate, near the Temple Mount complex in Jerusalem, left two Israeli police officers dead.  Another officer was wounded.

The three assailants were shot dead on the Temple Mount.  They were Israeli-Arab cousins from the city of Umm al-Fahm in northern Israel.

As a result of the attack, the compound, sacred to both Jews and Muslim, was shut down for Muslim prayers, only the third time since 1967.  Jews still are not permitted to pray on the Temple Mount.

Several minutes before the attack, a selfie of two of the terrorists was posted to Facebook, taken with the Dome of the Rock in the background.  The (translated) caption read, “Tomorrow’s smile will be the most beautiful, with the help of Allah.”

Two Israeli Police Officers Killed in
Temple Mount Shooting, Another Wounded


In other news, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) closed above 21,600 for the first time ever.  It was the third record high in three consecutive days.

Today, the Dow was up 0.39% to 21,637.74.  The Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index was up 0.47% to 2,459.27, also a record high.

Dow Jones Industrial Average record high: 21,637.74   Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index record high: 2,459.27
Dow Jones Industrial Average record high July 12: 21,532.14
July 12
Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index July 12: 2,443.25
July 12
  Dow Jones Industrial Average record high July 13: 21,553.09
July 13
Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index July 13: 2,447.83
July 13

July 11, 2017

Today is All American Pet Photo Day.  I do not have any pets myself, but I do like other people’s pets.  I like dogs and cats equally.  They almost always like me because I find their favorite spots to be rubbed and scratched: ears, cheeks, chin, neck and/or back.

Below is a collection of some of the photos I’ve taken of various pets over many years.  It really is only a small fraction of all the pet pics that I have.

           

           

           

           

           

           

           

           

           

           

           
3¼-minute slideshow

July 8, 2017

Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, IsraelYesterday, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) had a secret vote.  It named one of the holiest Jewish sites, the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, a Palestinian site.  The resolution passed 12-3, with six abstentions.

Israel has lambasted the decision.  Furthermore, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has cut $1 million of the membership funds that Israel pays to the United Nations.  This follows the $1 million cut from the U.N. in May due to UNESCO’s condemnation of Israel’s actions in Jerusalem and Gaza.

Israel reduces UN funding after
Hebron shrine declared Palestinian

The leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations have responded to this.  They have condemned UNESCO for declaring Hebron an “endangered Palestinian heritage site.”

Conference of Presidents
condemns UNESCO

July 7, 2017

Following President Trump’s successful visit to Poland yesterday, he now is in Hamburg, Germany, for the annual G20 summit.  Today, Trump and Russia’s President Putin met in person for the first time.  Their meeting lasted about 2 hours 15 minutes.

According to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Trump pressed Putin on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections, but Putin denied that this had happened.  Also, Trump and Putin agreed that a cease-fire in southwest Syria will begin on July 9.

Trump presses Putin on Syria, US
election meddling in first meeting

July 4, 2017

America’s 241st Birthday

   
9-second slideshow

We attended a party at the home of some friends.  There was lots of great food and fun.  A few activities included trampoline jumping, bow and arrow shooting and playing UNO emoji.

       

       
25-second slideshow

Later, everyone walked a few blocks away to watch an outstanding public fireworks display.  Before the show, we saw a small object flying back and forth in the distance.  Everyone agreed that it must have been a drone, but we didn’t know if it belonged to the city or to an individual.

       

       

       

       
50-second slideshow

Bill of Rights    Lord’s Prayer

July 2, 2017

Didymos A & B asteroidsFor the first time ever, NASA is planning to design a spacecraft that will attempt to shift the orbit of a small asteroid in our solar system.  The test will be called the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART).

If the project goes as planned, the spacecraft will be sent to a double asteroid system, Didymos A and Didymos B.  The length of Didymos A is about a half-mile, and the length of Didymos B is about 530 feet, with Didymos B orbiting around Didymos A.

The idea is to change the orbit of Didymos B around Didymos A and then to observe and study this change.  The information gathered by doing this may enable NASA to intercept and change the path of an asteroid, in the future, that appears to be headed for a collision with the earth.

NASA's First Asteroid Deflection
Mission Enters Next Design Phase

All of this reminds me of the second Trumpet Judgment in the Book of Revelation:

The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea.  A third of the sea turned into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed. (Revelation 8:8,9)

To me, that always has sounded like an asteroid falling into an ocean.  If so, I hope it isn’t human intervention with objects in space—which God has placed exactly where they should be—that ultimately causes one of those objects to crash into the earth and cause great destruction.


July 1, 2017

Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be.When times are difficult, many of us wish that we could return to a time in the past when things were better, happier or more fulfilling.  If we dwell on that too much, it can become what I call “living in the graveyard of the past,” since the past is “dead” and cannot be revived, nor can we return to it.  We need to “let go” of it.

It also is common, even normal, to worry about tomorrow and the future.  Yet, unforeseeable things are going to happen, whether we like them or not.  For the most part, there is nothing we can do about this, since everything that God has predestined to take place is going to happen.  Jesus talked about this in Matthew 7:25-34, the last portion of which is here:

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 7:33,34)

Therefore, I try to focus on my faith in God, which is one of the gifts of the Holy SpiritFaith is the ability to believe in the one, true God and to accept His purposes and gifts, overcoming human doubts, disbelief, and faulty intellectual reasoning which stem from the natural.

True faith enables us to accept things as they are and to look forward, with great anticipation, to the time when Jesus will bring the Kingdom of God to earth at the beginning of the Millennium.  At that time, He will rule and reign in righteousness and with perfect justice.  When that happens, we never will have the urge to “live in the past,” and we never will worry about the future.  The world will be better than it’s been in human history; we will be happier and more fulfilled than ever before, and this never will end. 

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