Displaying items by tag: USA
At the time of writing, 19th January America is about to hit their debt limit, meaning the government is not allowed to borrow any more money - unless Congress agrees to suspend or change the cap, currently almost $31.4tn (£25.4tn). Since 1960, politicians have moved to raise, extend or revise the definition of the debt limit 78 times - including three just in the last six months. But Republicans recently took control of the House of Representatives and are calling for spending cuts, raising concerns that politicians will delay acting this time - leading America to intentionally default for the first time in its history. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has estimated that special measures can buy time for the US until at least June, at which point the government will no longer be able to pay its bills. A true economic catastrophe - unpaid defence contractor payments, Social Security cheques, received by retirees and salaries of government employees, including the military, will all be affected.
The US government has paved the way for pharmacies to sell mifepristone, the first of a two-drug procedure for medication abortions. Mifepristone is used first to block progesterone and cause the unborn baby to die over several days. It is followed by misoprostol, which causes painful uterine contractions which expel the deceased baby from the mother’s womb. Retailers CVS and Walgreens will seek government certification to dispense the drug to women with a doctor’s prescription. Women could then take it at home, despite documented medical risks. Pro-life leaders say the new regulation will turn neighbourhood retail pharmacies into participants in killing unborn children. Peer-reviewed data from California, Finland and Sweden show that chemical abortions result in higher rates of medical complications than surgical abortions. A pro-life research organisation said emergency room visits associated with chemical abortion increased by over 500% from 2002 to 2015. During those years chemical abortions increased from 4.4% to 34.1% of total abortions.
On 2 January two pastors, Al and Vivian Robinson, made headlines after going out into horrific snowstorms to save people trapped in 12-foot snow drifts that might have frozen them in record breaking -20C wind chill. They had recently sold a rehabilitation centre, and every mattress and bed stored in their church was used by the 154 people they rescued. The previous day they had purchased two weeks’ worth of food for their large family, who were expected for the holidays. That food fed around 130 people in the only building in the area with electricity. People slept and ate in the warm church. The way all these factors came together to meet their community’s needs didn’t surprise Al, who said God equipped them for the moment.
Mauna Loa volcano is the largest active volcano in the world. On 1 December the alert level code was upgraded to red, the highest classification. The lava flow is mostly contained within the summit, but residents have been placed on alert and warned about the risk of falling ash. The US Geological Service said the situation could change rapidly. The eruption of Mauna Loa has two active fissures feeding lava flows downslope, while other lava flows are travelling north. They are reaching a relatively flat area and beginning to slow down; as this happens, the lava will spread out and inflate. Pray for the safety of the many visitors rushing to observe the spectacle. Pray for the residents worried about emergency response and resources that may be available to assist those at risk. Updates here
Golden Hills Elementary School in California is facing backlash from parents after promoting an after-school Satan club aimed at children as young as five. The controversial club is scheduled to hold monthly meetings starting in December. It was created by the Satanic Temple - not to be confused with the Church of Satan - as an antidote to the evangelical Christian groups cropping up in public schools. The organisation’s website states, ‘The Satanic Temple does not advocate for religion in schools. However, once religion invades schools, as the Good News Clubs have, the Satanic Temple will fight to ensure that plurality and true religious liberty are respected.’ In this instance, the after-school club was created in response to the Good News Club, a weekly Christian programme for 5- to 12-year-olds at the school. Many parents believe the Satan club is a Trojan horse to promote devil worship in schools.
Corey Brooks, founder of New Beginnings Church, is a leading voice in the fight against the violence gripping Chicago's poorest neighbourhoods. He camped on a makeshift rooftop for 365 days, raising over $20m for a new community centre. He said, ‘We talk about trying to remove violence, trying to remove poverty; this community centre will help people change their lives. Giving them a place to accept responsibility, start trying to do things for themselves and get on their feet. It's going to be a great place, teaching trades and business, giving counselling, a place for transformation.’ He braved wet, windy, cold nights and big storms; his mother died of cancer and his daughter welcomed a baby. He continued camping through it all.
Hurricane Nicole hit Florida on 10 November with 70 mph winds before being downgraded to a tropical storm. States of emergency remain, and evacuation orders are in place, with heavy rain and storm surges forecast. Nicole, which had also lashed Grand Bahama Island, will soon strike Georgia, South Carolina, and possibly other states. Storms of this size so late in the year are extremely rare: since 1853 Florida has only been hit twice. 45 of the state's 67 counties are under a state of emergency, and four counties are under mandatory evacuation orders. Over 100,000 customers are without power. Orlando airport grounded commercial operations.
A violent attack on Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's husband fractured his skull. He is recovering from surgery just a week before the midterm elections. A few hours later the government issued a bulletin warning of a ‘heightened threat’ of domestic violent extremism against candidates and election workers driven by individuals with ‘ideological grievances. Also, the US Department of Justice reported a man had pleaded guilty to making multiple phoned death threats against a Democratic congressman, stating he would come to Washington with a firearm. The political system is in a crucial moment. Republican and Democrat votes will determine who controls Congress next year. Republicans warn this is the last chance to put a check on Joe Biden's presidency. Democrats say American democracy is at stake because numerous Republican candidates refuse to accept 2020’s election results. A violent wave is building. In the first three months of 2022, more than 1,800 incidents were documented.
Brazil’s Lula da Silva’s presidential election victory brings renewed hope for our largest rainforest as he pledged to combat climate change and reverse his predecessor’s policies. Pray for Lula to keep his pledges to protect the Amazon. November 8th is the USA’s midterm election day. Black, Hispanic, and young people are concerned about crime at polling stations. South Africa’s new Zulu king, Misuzulu kaZwelithini, has been officially recognised as the head of the country’s influential traditional monarchy by President Ramaphosa saying, ‘You have picked up the mighty spear that fell. May your steady hand bring stability to AmaZulu kingship.’ Pray that the new king and government unite to bring rural areas into prosperity. At the time of writing, Itamar Ben-Gvir, a fringe Palestinian-hating religious far-right extremist, will probably join Benjamin Netanyahu to form a far right coalition that would change the nature of Israel’s political system.
2,500 US stealth fighters and Philippine marines have blasted imaginary enemies in combat drills, mock amphibious assaults, and other coastal tactics. These drills were the first joint large-scale military exercise under the newly elected president. His predecessor was an outspoken critic who threatened to cut ties with Washington and was against military exercises which could offend Beijing. Held simultaneously with these drills were exercises between US and Japanese forces around Hokkaido island, involving 3,000 military personnel. The USA said the drills ensured that it was ‘prepared to respond rapidly to crises throughout the Indo-Pacific’. Japan’s Ground Self-Defence Force said they would strengthen response capabilities. These drills came as Washington and Beijing engage in heated rhetoric over the status of Taiwan and claims to islands and waters in the South China Sea. See the next article, Taiwan billionaire.