Threats, real and imagined

Homeland Security has issued a warning about a vague terror threat after a “rise in anti-government sentiment”. Here’s NBC’s summary (13 minute mark): opposition to COVID measures, and claims there was election fraud represent a potential terror threat.

After the recent withdrawal of remaining foreign troops in Afghanistan, the Taliban has quickly moved to take the country for their own. Distressing footage has been posted on the internet, as civilians try to flee the Taliban’s advance on the capital. Helicopters were sent to the embassy in Kabul to evacuate personnel.

In a press release, President Biden defended pulling troops out of Afghanistan, saying that if the Afghan military could not “hold its own country”, then more time would not have made any difference. However, it is puzzling why the withdrawal seems to have been such a clumsy effort, with munitions and buildings abandoned and unsecured. The President has deployed 5000 troops to help evacuate remaining Americans. 

Pray for safety for evacuees and for the church in that nation.

The battle goes on

Conservative corners of the interwebs have been awash with videos of people -adults and children- giving school boards a piece of their minds when it comes to mask mandates in schools. It is always heartening to see community resistance against broad and mindless policies. This one caught our eye, as Matt Walsh brought the fire to his school board meeting, saying what we are all thinking. 

The Desert Review is reporting that India successfully used the drug Ivermectin extensively to fight the last outbreak there. But it’s crickets in the mainstream media… French police are checking vaccine passports of outdoor diners in Paris. But Italians are burning theirs.

One vaccine expert is calling for an immediate halt to vaccination, saying vaccination during a pandemic promotes “immune escape variants” which are more infectiousness and reduce the formation of antibodies.

Politico crunched some numbers last month and concluded that the divide over mask mandates and lockdowns has more to do with income than political affiliations. It makes sense, that staying at home and having people bring you things is an option many service industry and blue-collar workers don’t have.

The whole wired world

It would seem that many Americans are cutting the cord. At least a little. News outlets recently reported that Netflix is “bleeding” subscribers in the USA.

In the continued tension between privacy and security, tech companies are inventing new ways of verifying who you are. Amazon is offering customers ten bucks (store credit) to store their palm print. And in another “pick one” moment, Apple has said it is building software for its devices that would help in the fight against child porn and exploitation. Sounds good, except this would involve scanning phones and even encrypted messages for explicit images, which has privacy advocates worried.

In some heartwarming tech news, a Japanese robotics company has opened a cafe with a twist. The cafe is tended by robots, which are controlled by remote workers. The robots are avatars for bed ridden or paralyzed people. The cafe gives the workers a chance to engage with people, and combats the loneliness of isolation.

No soup for you

The World Health Organization has put the kibosh on COVID booster shots, saying that every country needs to be at least 10% vaccinated first. 

Celebs are weighing in on the vaccine debate with actress Jennifer Aniston saying she has ditched friends who are unvaxxed or who won’t reveal whether they’ve been jabbed. Oprah’s bestie, Gayle King, has said she will ban family members from Thanksgiving celebrations if they are not vaccinated.

Sweden is apparently still doing well on the COVID front, according to Zerohedge, while the Delta variant has reached China, triggering fresh lockdowns for millions.

Unvaccinated players for the Pittsburgh Steelers will be required to wear yellow wristbands.

Talking about money

A two-year Congressional deal to suspend the USA’s debt limit expired last weekend, meaning the government can no longer borrow money to pay its debts. The Hill says there is little agreement across the political aisle on spending, with Republicans generally favoring spending cuts while Democrats favor removing the debt ceiling again. Bipartisan support for a plan will be needed to avoid the US defaulting on its $28 trillion national debt. For all the wonky details, you can read more here or here.

Another important date came and went last week. A moratorium on evictions, put in place by the government to ease financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic, ended on July 31. While the Supreme Court acknowledged the unconstitutional nature of the moratorium last September, the Order was allowed it to stand because the CDC planned to end it “in only a few weeks.” 

However, the Biden administration has issued a new ban on evictions, which John Daniel Davidson at The Federalist called “blatantly unconstitutional.” He writes: “If landlords try to evict tenants for not paying rent, they could face criminal penalties including fines and imprisonment.” Landlords are owed around $21bn in rent.

President Biden is proposing a return to Obama-era fuel efficiency standards for vehicles. The White House’s ambitious plan to reduce carbon emissions also aims for 40% to 50% of new auto sales to be electric cars by 2030.

Miami is minting its own cryptocurrency to fund police.

While we’re talking of mammon.. for all the market enthusiasts, the Bank of England has published a working paper of global interest rates since 1300. That’s quite a while… 

Steeling our kids

An interesting piece of news came to our attention last week, with the editor of a German newspaper apologizing to children for his publication’s coverage of the pandemic. Julian Reichelt, editor of Bild, said he was sorry for causing children to be fearful, telling them they would “murder their grandma” if they met with friends or family. 

The Progressive Left has made no secret of its desire to affect wholesale change in society by targeting kids. Before the burden of making sure you’re woke enough was put on youngsters, “eco-anxiety” was reported in children, with the coverage of child climate activist, Greta Thunberg, painting a very bleak future for the planet.

Abigail Shrier recently wrote an essay on the hopeful tone being set by the political campaign of JD Vance. Noting that children are being taught that there is nothing good about America, she says that we could all stand to hear something positive. In a thought provoking line, she writes “Is there any more damning indicator of a culture than that it produces hopeless children?” 

Mad Christians are familiar with the ways that the white noise can break down our hope, making every news cycle feel urgent, every corruption of morality inevitable, and the undermining of truth with confusion, ubiquitous. This is true for us; it’s also true for our children. 

Yet our hope is real, guaranteed by Christ himself. Teaching children that the world is not all roses can be a daunting task, but we can pray for wisdom. Rev. Fisk’s advice on this subject (around the 41 minute mark) is the same for children as for adults who find their hope is fading: turn to the Psalter, learn the Creeds and hear the red-letter promises of Jesus. The writer to the Hebrews reminds us of Christ’s words to his people “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say:

“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?” 

Alleluia.

Promo of friends – Fuente de Vida

Iglesia Luterana, Fuente de Vida, Ponce, Puerto Rico

We recently heard from our LCMS mission in the U.S. Territory of Puerto Rico that there are people watching and learning about the comfort of confessional Lutheran teaching through Youtube channels like the Mad Christian’s. Rev. James Neuendorf let us know that one Puerto Rican viewer was recently confirmed in one of the new Lutheran Church plants on the island!  If you want to learn more about the LCMS mission in Puerto Rico or connect with the mission down there, you can check out their page at fuentedevidapr.org

Payin’ the bills

The value of Bitcoin surged after rumors circulated that Amazon was considering accepting purchases in the cryptocurrency. After Amazon said they weren’t planning such a change in the near future, Bitcoin dropped, but is expected to recover soon.

A crypto expert has tweeted that the infrastructure bill being considered by Congress could “sink the American crypto industry.” It could all just be worrying out loud, but it would seem that the government sees cryptocurrency taxation as the cash cow needed to pay for the trillion dollar plan.

The Chinese government has upset the global financial scene by banning private sector tutoring companies from making money. Educational companies working in China will become non-profit entities, which prompted panicked selling of stocks. Many Chinese parents employ tutors for their children, creating an industry worth around $120BN. The CCP is looking to reduce the cost of raising children, presumably to encourage couples to have more of them. The move by the CCP comes on the back of a broad crackdown of China’s tech sector.

In a side note, the first person tried under new Hong Kong security laws has been found guilty.

The US economy has returned to its pre-pandemic size, but despite government insistence that inflation is only a “temporary” problem, many sites are reporting that key indicators suggest otherwise. Panicking over inflation usually just makes things worse, so we’ll keep living like Jesus is coming back tomorrow and building like he’s not coming back for a century.

Didn’t we do this already?

Although President Biden said only months ago that he would not mandate vaccines or masks at a national level, he has now ordered that federal workers must be vaccinated or submit to frequent testing. Postal workers are exempt from the order, which may be due to union opposition to mandatory vaccination. Many smaller power brokers are doing the same, with a new edict from Governor Newsom imposing similar conditions on Californian healthcare workers and state employees. The Department of Veteran Affairs will also mandate vaccination for its medical staff, as will NYC for its workers, while Broadway will require vaccinations and masks for audiences and crew.

President Biden recently suggested that people who are unvaccinated are “not as smart as he thought they were,” but his assertion that the only “pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated” may be challenged. Although the amount of “breakthrough” cases (where a vaccinated person contracts COVID) is small, vaccinated people can still spread the virus or even die in rare circumstances. Complicating the picture further is the fact that many agencies, including the CDC stopped tracking breakthrough cases except in cases of hospitalization or death, Bloomberg reports.

Liberal publication, Slate, has printed a dispassionate review of the “noble lies” told by public health officials. It is interesting to see a Left-leaning site acknowledge that a) lies were told and b) the lying did not produce the required behavior. Whether anyone will learn a lesson though, is another thing…

In the UK, recently leaked government figures show that almost half of the patients recorded as being admitted to hospital due to COVID, only tested positive on arrival. The new data suggests that the rate of hospitalization because of COVID is overstated. Prime Minister Boris Johnson seems to have changed tack after chasing a “Zero COVID” agenda through the last year. The British PM lifted most restrictions from July 19, drawing the ire of liberal media. Cases are currently dropping in Britain, and no doubt the world will be watching.

Crazy scenes from Italy’s parliament went viral this week. After one MP was chased out of the House for protesting vaccine mandates, a number of politicians hit the floor to stand with him.

Also wild – according to reports, half of the deer in Michigan have been exposed to the coronavirus.

Life savings

Christian evangelist, Nick Vujicic, has set out to found a “pro life bank.” Vujicic says 90% of banks give philanthropically to pro-abortion organizations and is working to make an alternative. 

In other life news, Mississippi recently asked the Supreme Court to overturn the Roe vs Wade ruling, which made abortion legal all across America in 1973.

If you watched the Chill from Saturday morning, you might have heard the Mad Christian refer to an alternate history of polio. Unbiased Mike found a thread which sums it up well.