Displaying items by tag: North America
USA: ‘protect against potential cyberattacks’
The White House has stated that there is evolving intelligence of Russia exploring options for cyberattacks. The US administration has prioritised strengthening, modernising and improving the security of widely-used technology. The President launched action plans to shore up the cybersecurity of the electricity, pipeline, and water sectors and has urged departments and agencies to mandate new cybersecurity and network defence measures, stating, ‘We will do everything in our power to defend the nation and respond to cyberattacks. But much of our infrastructure is owned and operated by the private sector and they must act to protect the critical services on which all Americans rely.’ Pray for American commerce and industry to successfully authorise authentication on all systems to make it harder for attackers to enter. Pray for cybersecurity professionals as they patch, protect and employ multi-factor passwords and authentication.
USA: 'moral compass'
A recent survey by the Deseret News reveals a growing trend. Americans are becoming less attached to religious practices and institutions such as daily prayer and attending services. While the state of religion is continually changing, the study found that most Americans still hold core religious beliefs and draw moral guidance from their families and their faith traditions. 7 in 10 Americans believe the country would be better off if we prayed for each other, and most Americans say the Constitution was inspired by God. About 71% consider themselves spiritual, regardless of whether they practise religion or not. 40% attend church at least once or twice a month - a noticeable decline from 2011. Americans over 60 are the most likely to attend church services. 72% believe ‘the nation's moral compass is pointed in the wrong direction’.
USA: ‘We text him every day to confirm he’s alive’
The world has been watching what is happening in Ukraine with shock and sadness. Thousands across the USA are taking to the streets to show their support, including a large group who gathered recently in Virginia Beach. For many who attended, the war is personal. Hundreds marched along the oceanfront with signs, songs, and desperate prayers to raise awareness and funds to help Ukrainians who are right now fighting not just for their country, but for their very lives. ‘Every day we text him and make sure he's alive!’ said 32-year-old Olga who was born and raised in Ukraine now living in Virginia Beach with her husband. She marched with her parents, who came to America two months ago. Her twin brother is still in Ukraine.
Venezuela: USA meets Maduro
With fears that the war in Ukraine could push global energy prices even higher, Washington recently met Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro to discuss conditions for repealing the crippling US sanctions in place against his country. Washington, which broke off relations in 2019 over Maduro’s rigged elections and crackdowns on opposition protests, is reportedly demanding free and fair presidential elections and extensive reforms to the Venezuelan oil sector. Maduro, for his part, wants an end to the sanctions and to be readmitted to the SWIFT global financial platform. Venezuela is a close ally and partner of Russia. Some members of Congress have criticised any effort to rekindle relations, saying that efforts to isolate Putin should not boost other authoritarian leaders. Aside from the political whiplash of resuming oil trade, Venezuela’s oil fields have long suffered from mismanagement. Some industry analysts say it could be slow to increase supply. See
USA: Donald Trump’s possible criminal acts
The congressional committee investigating the attack on Capitol Hill said in a court filing, ‘Evidence and information available to the Committee establishes a good-faith belief that Mr Trump and others may have engaged in criminal and/or fraudulent acts. The select committee also has a good-faith basis for concluding that the President and members of his campaign engaged in criminal conspiracy to defraud the USA.’ If John Eastman is proven to have worked unethically for Mr Trump his legal licence may be suspended, and it increases political pressure on the Attorney General to charge Trump.
USA: Biden’s State of the Union speech
Joe Biden's first formal State of the Union speech came as only 40.6% of Americans are happy with his job performance. After describing his foreign policies on the invasion of Ukraine, Mr Biden confronted a host of domestic troubles dogging his presidency, from the enduring pandemic to soaring consumer prices, a wave of violent crime, and inflation hitting a 40-year high even though the jobless rate has sunk to 4%. The president sought to empathise with hard-pressed working families, saying ‘I get it.’ He promised a plan for ‘building a better America’ by boosting domestic production of cars and semiconductors, as well as rebuilding the nation’s roads and bridges. Republican response to the speech portrayed a presidency reflecting the late '70s ‘when runaway inflation hammered families, a violent crime wave crushed cities, and the Soviet army was trying to redraw the world map’.
USA: Trump’s version of Twitter
A year after Donald Trump was banned from Twitter he launched his own social-media platform, Truth Social, in a limited form, on the US Apple app store. Commentators noted the app had similarities to Twitter. Some of those trying to register were told, ‘Due to massive demand, we have placed you on our waiting list’. Project lead former congressman Devin Nunes said it was expected to be fully operational by the end of March. Created by the year-old Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG), Truth Social had previously been made available to 500 beta testers. Truth Social describes itself as a ‘big tent' social-media platform that encourages an open, free and honest global conversation without discriminating against political ideology. Mr Nunes vowed it would be a ‘censorship-free experience’.
USA: Arizona bans abortions after 15 weeks
On 15 February the Republican-led Senate in Arizona voted in favour of a bill to ban abortion after fifteen weeks of pregnancy. Senator Nancy Barto, who sponsored the bill, said, ‘The state has an obligation to protect life, and that is what this bill is about. A 15-week-old baby in the womb has a fully formed nose, lips, eyelids. They suck their thumbs. They feel pain. That’s what this bill is about.’ Democrats argue that any abortion ban would disproportionately affect low-income and minority women who are unable to travel to other states with no such restrictions. Doctors who violate the bill could face felony charges and lose their licences. At present, the bill moves to the GOP-controlled State House, which has previously ruled against abortion. If passed, it goes to governor Doug Ducey’s desk to be signed. In the past seven sessions, Ducey, who opposed abortion, has signed every abortion-related bill that has reached his desk.
USA: 200,000 drug deaths
Since the start of the pandemic 200,000 Americans have died from drug overdoses, an alarming increase over previous years. Numbers for 2021 are not yet released but look to be higher still. The crisis is driven by a new, ultra-potent drug called fentanyl. Only two milligrams are lethal. It is the most powerful painkiller on the market, and 100 times more potent than morphine. In 2021 Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized over 11,000 pounds of fentanyl, enough to kill 2.5 billion people. Fentanyl is being laced into less potent drugs like marijuana and heroin, often without the knowledge of the user. CBP said, ‘Almost every methamphetamine positive also has a fentanyl positive. Once that first high occurs, nothing after that compares.’ Pray for the pandemic casualties, now experiencing depression, to turn to Christ for inner peace and avoid illegal substances. Pray for God to touch the lives of the families of addicts.
USA: concern for Biden’s mental health
Republicans have questioned Biden's cognitive abilities since before he was elected in 2020. Biden's doctor said, after November’s physical, that he was healthy, vigorous and fit for office. Republican senator Roger Marshall, also a physician, expressed interest in having the president take an annual cognitive test, much like he has an annual physical examination - citing concern for his health. Marshall said he feels there has been a ‘deterioration’ in Biden's ‘mental capacity’ over the past year: ‘I think we're all very concerned about his health, and it is a national security issue.’ On 15 February, 38 Republicans sent a letter to the president requesting he take a cognitive test. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Marshall's comments or the letter. Biden is 79, the oldest person ever to be elected president.