Thursday, April 30, 2020

Greek Orth.Church Demands In-Person Worship; PM Lifting Some COVID-19 Limits, Not Worship

The Greek Orthodox Church has demanded that Greece ease restrictions on in-person worship, as the European nation begins to reopen following a coronavirus shutdown, the Christian Post website reports today (April 30, 2020).

While Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis plans to lift certain restrictions enacted in March to curb the spread of the pandemic, a ban on in-person religious services will remain.

Church spokesman Metropolitan of Nafpaktos Hierotheos has taken issue with the decision. "What do they really think the Church is?" stated Hierotheos. "Do they consider it like any other supermarket or union or nail and hair salon?"

The Orthodox Church is the established religion in Greece with about 90 percent of the population identifying as Orthodox Christian.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Trump Signs Order to Keep Meat Plants Open; Does So to Prevent Absence of Meat in Markets

President Trump signed an executive order today (April 29, 2020) using the Defense Production Act to require meat processing plants to keep operating, according to the Newsy website.

It classifies those plants as "critical infrastructures" while the U.S. faces a potential meat shortage.

Two of the nation's largest pork processing plants are now closed due to coronavirus outbreaks.

A White House official said the administration's action is designed to prevent multiple long-term plant shutdowns that could lead to a supply drop of 80% in supermarkets.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

US Food Supply Chain Has Begun Breaking Down; COVID-19 May Soon Block Meat Delivery to Stores

Our nation's food supply chain to grocery stores is starting to break down due to the coronavirus, the New American website reports today (April 28, 2020).

Farmers have been plowing under crops that have no markets to ship them to, and area food banks say they cannot get enough food to continue operations.

John Tyson, chairman of the board at Tyson Foods Inc., warned about the impending crisis in a full-page ad published April 26 in the New York Times and other newspapers in which he warned, "The food supply chain is breaking."

Tyson said the prospect of closing down pork, beef, and chicken plants because of the coronavirus has made the U.S. supply chain "vulnerable."

Monday, April 27, 2020

New Zealand Asserts It Eliminated Coronavirus; Had Less Than 1500 COVID-19 Cases, 19 Deaths

New Zealand says it has stopped community transmission of COVID-19, in effect eliminating the virus, the BBC website reports today (April 27, 2020).

With new cases in single figures for several days -- including just one yesterday -- Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the virus was "currently" eliminated.

Officials have warned against complacency, saying it does not mean a total end to new coronavirus cases.

New Zealand has reported fewer than 1,500 cases of coronavirus and 19 deaths.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Saudi Arabia Bans Flogging as a Punishment; Human Rights Groups Condemned Cruel Act

Saudi Arabia has abolished flogging as a punishment, the state human rights commission said yesterday, hailing the move a "major step forward" in the reform program launched by the king and his powerful son, the Yahoo News website reports today (April 26, 2020).

Court-ordered floggings in Saudi Arabia -- sometimes extending to hundreds of lashes -- have long drawn condemnation from human rights groups.

The state human rights commission said that the latest reform would ensure that no more convicts were sentenced to flogging.

In the future, judges will have to choose between handing down fines or jail sentences, or non-custodial alternatives like community service.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Italy Uses Cannons to Disinfect Many Towns; Italians to End Lockdown,Start "New Normal"

Italian authorities are using snow cannons to disinfect entire towns in the Alps region of Italy ahead of the relaxation of lockdown measures, the Euro News website reports today (April 25, 2020).

Mounted on trucks, snow cannons -- usually used to cover ski slopes with snow -- are blasting tons of disinfectant.

Diluted hydrogen peroxide is being sprayed on roads, walls, and buildings in the town of  Val Gardena.

Italy currently has Europe's highest death toll from COVID-19, and is behind only the U.S. in global terms. But Italy is getting ready for the second phase of its lockdown, under which people will be allowed to slowly return to a "new normal."

Group Asks Churches Resume Services on May 3; Attendance Canceled for Weeks Due to COVID-19

A national Christian conservative legal nonprofit group is calling on churches nationwide to resume in-person worship services on May 3 while following appropriate safety protocols, arguing that "now is the time to act" after weeks of in-person services being suspended due to COVID-19, the Christian Post website reports today (April 25, 2020).

The Liberty Counsel this week announced an initiative, called Be Open Church Sunday, encouraging churches to open their doors on the Sunday before the National Day of Prayer observance on May 7.

The legal center contends that churches are "more essential than ever" but must be reopened with "appropriate measures of sanitization and appropriate social distancing between families."

"We chose May 3 because it is part of that phase one of the 'Opening America Again' [proposal] that the president [Donald Trump] issued as guidelines," Legal Counsel founder and attorney Met Staver told the Christian Post.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Dr. Fauci:"We Will Have Coronavirus in the Fall;" Asks Americans Keep Social Distancing Measures

Dr. Anthony Fauci said yesterday (April 22, 2020) that "We will have coronavirus in the fall," as he urged Americans to keep abiding to social distancing measures, according to the Huff Post website.

The doctor's comments come amid President Donald Trump's insistence that parts of the U.S. return to business as usual as soon as possible.

The White House released a three-phase plan last week for governors to use as a road map to restart parts of their economies. The plan is aimed at lowering restrictions in regions that have few cases of COVID-19.

More than 840,000 people in the U.S. have been infected  with the virus, and more than 42,300 have died.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Pope Compares Virus Cure to Jesus' Resurrection; Says Man Can "Rise Up" United to Lick COVID-19

Pope Francis has presented "a plan for the rising up again" of  humanity in the midst of a global crisis, in which he reflects on the coronavirus pandemic in the light of the resurrection of Jesus, the Americana Magazine website reports today (April 22, 2020).

"A Plan for Rising Up Again" is the title he chose for the reflection. In it, he does not conceal his concern over the crisis caused by a pandemic that has infected more than 2 million people, caused the deaths of over 140,000, and wreaked havoc on the world's economy.

In Spain alone 190,000 people have been infected and 19,600 have died.

Pope Francis says our experience today mirrors in many ways that of the disciples of Jesus after His death and burial in the tomb. Like them, "we live surrounded by an atmosphere of pain and uncertainty," and we ask, "Who will roll away the stone [from the tomb?]"

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Trump:Harvard to Return $9M in COVID Funds; Money Meant for Small Businesses, Not Harvard

President Donald Trump said today (April 21, 2020) that Harvard University must return coronavirus stimulus money he said was intended for small businesses, according to the USA Today website.

"Harvard is going to return the money," the president asserted at his daily press conference today. "They shouldn't have taken it."

"If they won't do that, then we'll do something else," the president said, without elaborating.

Harvard has come under fire for receiving some $9 million in funding from the coronavirus relief package. The school has said the money would be used for helping Harvard students who need financial aid. Trump said Harvard does not need the money, since it has an endowment of about $40 billion. In the past, Trump said he will tax all U.S. universities' endowments, meaning Harvard would pay several million dollars in taxes every year.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Fauci Warns Anti-Shutdown Rallies to Backfire; Protests Will Hurt Economy, Spread COVID-19

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the 79-year-old expert immunologist who is part of President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force, is arguing against the anti-shutdown rallies and protests that are taking place across the U.S., the Alter Net website reports today (April 20, 2020).

Those rallies feature protesters standing close to each other in defiance of social distancing.

Fauci today warned that by promoting the spread of COVID-19, they are hurting the economy -- not helping it.

He added, "What you do if you jump the gun and go into a situation where you have a big spike, you're going to set yourself back. So, as painful as it is to go by the careful guidelines of gradually phasing into a reopening, it's going to backfire."

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Greek Migrant Camp Set on Fire on Chios Island; Camp Set Up for 1,000 Migrants But Holds 5,000

One of Greece's largest migrant camps has been set afire after clashes broke out at Camp VIAL on the island of Chios, the Euro News website reports today (April 19, 2020).

Three asylum seekers have been arrested after the violence started on April 18.

Two cars, a canteen, tents, and accommodation containers went up in the blaze.

The camps are overcrowded with around 5,000 living at VIAL which was originally set up to accommodate 1,000 people.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Orth. Clerics Perform Holy Fire at Holy Sepulchre; Thousands Miss Easter Services Due to COVID-19

As a prelude to the Greek Orthodox Easter being celebrated on April 19, the ceremony in Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre was performed today (April 18, 2020) by a handful of Greek Orthodox clerics wearing face masks, according to the RT website.

The descent of the Holy Fire is a miracle believed by Orthodox Christians to occur every year on Great Saturday. The fire is then taken to Greece, Russia, Romania, and other countries where the Orthodox Church predominates.

The usual large, iconic crowds of the faithful -- both local Christians and pilgrims from all over the world -- that normally attend the ceremony were missing due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

Orthodox Easter celebrations around the world have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. "This Easter is different. We will not go to our villages, we will not barbecue in our yards, we will not go to our churches," said Stelios Petsas, government spokesperson for Greece, one of the largest Orthodox Christian-majority nations.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Some US Gas Prices Are Now under $1 Per Gallon; Gas Glut Due to COVID-19 Restrictions Cuts Cost

Gasoline prices in the U.S. have fallen significantly in recent weeks -- to less than a dollar per gallon in some places -- as there has been a huge decrease in drivers on the road due to coronavirus-related restrictions, the UPI website reports today (April 17, 2020).

AAA said today the national average for a gallon of gas is $1.83 -- a decline of 41 cents per gallon from a month ago and a full dollar cheaper than the average price a year ago.

The cheapest gasoline is being sold in the Midwest, where the cost per gallon is $1.50 or less in seven states, according to AAA.

Wisconsin has the least expensive regular gas in the U.S., at an average of $1.25 per gallon. But several locations are selling fuel for less than a dollar per gallon, including Milwaukee and Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Trump Briefs "Opening Up America Again" Plan; Governors to Rule When to End COVID-19 Curbs

President Donald Trump rolled out recommendations for reopening the U.S. economy today (April 16, 2020) that allow states to continue calling their own shots on the coronavirus crisis, according to the NY Daily News website.

The recommendations -- contained in an 18-page package titled "Guidelines for Opening Up America Again" -- call on states to take on a three-phased approach for reopening schools and businesses.

Each phase lasts at least 14 days and decreases social distancing.

That means the guidelines do not envision most parts of the U.S. returning to any sense of normal life until late May or early June.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Thousands Protest Stay-at-Home Order in Mich.; Gov. Says Protesters Increasing Risk of COVID-19

Demonstrators drove thousands of vehicles -- many draped with protest signs -- to Michigan's state Capitol today (April 15, 2020), loudly protesting Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-at-home order intended to fight the coronavirus pandemic, according to the USA Today website.

Police watched as horns honked and commercial and private vehicles from around the state jammed Capitol Avenue and other streets surrounding Michigan's seat of government in Lansing.

"Liberty once lost is lost forever." read a sign draped across a commercial van. "Recall Whitmer," read another sign.

Whitmer said today she respects the right to protest, but believes many of the protesters put themselves and others at risk of contracting COVID-19.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Va. Bishop with Packed Church Dies of COVID-19; Boasted of Church's Packed Pews amid Pandemic

Gerald Glenn, a Virginia bishop who defied his state's social distancing recommendations and boasted about his church's packed pews amid the coronavirus pandemic, died over Easter weekend of complications from the virus, the Huff Post website reports today (April 14, 2020).

Glenn's wife also tested positive for the illness, known as COVID-19.

The couple's daughter has since urged the public to "understand the severity and the seriousness" of the virus.

Glenn, 66, was the founder and pastor of New Deliverance Evangelical Church in Chesterfield, about 20 miles south of Richmond.

Monday, April 13, 2020

COVID-19 Causes US Meat Plant Facility to Close; Food Stores May Not Have Meat If Trend Goes On

One of America's biggest pork processing facilities has shut its doors indefinitely after employees started falling ill with the novel coronavirus -- and the company's CEO has warned that the U.S. meat supply is now under serious threat, the Daily Beast website reports today (April 13, 2020).

The facility in Sioux Falls, South Dakota accounts for around 5 percent of the country's pork production and employs about 3,700 people, according to Smithfield, which runs the plant.

""The closure of this facility, combined with a growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply," said Chief Executive Kenneth Sullivan.

He added, "It is impossible to keep our grocery stores stocked if our plants are not running."

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Pope Calls for Global Solidarity to Hit COVID-19; Praises Those Risking Their Lives to Save Others

Pope Francis today (April 12, 2020) called for global solidarity in fighting the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout, urging the relaxation of international sanctions, debt relief for poor nations, and ceasefires in all conflicts, according to the Reuters website.

He also warned the European Union that it risked collapse if it did not agree on how to help the region recover.

The pope's Easter "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city  and the world) message, delivered from an empty St. Peter's Basilica -- instead of the usual crowd of tens of thousands in the square outside -- was by far his most pressing and political since his election in 2013.

Saying the message of this year's "Easter of solitude" should be a "contagion of hope," he heaped praise on doctors, nurses, and others risking their lives to save others and hailed those working to keep essential services running.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Pope Presents Good Friday Services at St. Peter's; Liturgy Live-Streamed to Cath. around the World

Pope Francis presided over the commemoration of the Passion of the Lord at a near-empty St. Peter's Basilica on the evening of Good Friday, the Independent Catholic News website reports today (April 11, 2020).

The liturgy was live-streamed to the faithful around the world.

At the Adoration of the Holy Cross, only the pope was able to venerate the Cross with a kiss, in compliance with measures to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

The Preacher of the Papal Household, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, preached the Sermon, reminding everyone that God has plans for our welfare, and not woe, even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Judge Denies Over 10 People at Easter Services; Va. Law Bars Over 10 Worshippers Due to Virus

A judge has denied a request by a Virginia man to allow for church services to take place on Easter in the state, despite a state order barring large gatherings to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, the Christian Post  website reports today (April 10, 2020).

Larry Hughes, a retired teacher from Russell County, had filed legal action against the commonwealth for its stay-at-home order, which did not exempt religious events.

Judge Michael Moore denied the injunction request yesterday, meaning that church gatherings of more than 10 people will not be permitted by Easter Sunday.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring expressed support for the injunction denial, saying in a statement that the order was a matter of public health.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Over 16M Americans Lost Jobs Since Virus Began; One in Ten Have Lost Their Jobs in Past 3 Weeks

At least 16.6 million Americans have lost their jobs since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the Daily Beast website reports today (April 9, 2020).

The weekly jobless numbers from the Department of Labor showed an additional 6.6 million Americans filed claims last week.

The two previous weeks saw around 10 million claims, so the total number has now soared way above 16 million.

About one in 10 working Americans have lost their jobs in just the past three weeks.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Graham: COVID-19 Is Result of a "Fallen World;" World Turned Its Back on God,Must Pray for Help

Franklin Graham, the son of the late world famous evangelist Billy Graham, says the coronavirus pandemic is happening because of sin in a "fallen world" that has "turned its back on God," the Christian Headlines website reports today (April 8, 2020).

Graham, an evangelical leader and president of the organization Samaritan's Purse, said in an interview with Fox News' Jeannie Pirro that the pandemic is a "result" of the "fallen world."

"This pandemic, this is a result of the fallen world, a world that has turned its back on God," Graham said. "So I would encourage people to pray and let's ask God for help."

When Pirro asked Graham why God would allow the coronavirus outbreak to happen, Graham responded, "I don't think that God planned for this to happen. It's because of the sin that's in the world. Man has turned his back against God. We have sinned against Him. We need to ask for God's forgiveness."

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Vatican Slams Medical Bias for Young Patients; Warns Favoring Young Over Elderly Is "Wrong"

With the elderly representing the largest age group of lives lost by the coronavirus, the Vatican's top official on life issues has warned against selective care practices that prioritize young patients, the Crux website reports today (April 7, 2020).

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said that with many hospitals facing shortages of essential equipment, such as ventilators, at times give preference to patients with better perceived odds of survival, which generally disadvantages the elderly.

"This is the 'throwaway culture' in action 'justified' by the lack of medical instruments, in turn due to healthcare policy choices that cut costs," Paglia said.

He called the decision to base healthcare and educational funding on cost-saving measures "wrong and misleading."

Monday, April 6, 2020

US Farmers Destroy Millions of Pounds of Crops; Lost Many Customers Due to COVID-19 Closings

U.S. farmers -- now facing a disastrous year and a loss of income -- have destroyed millions of pounds of perishable food like tomatoes, lettuce, and green beans because growers lost a vast number of customers after the coronavirus pandemic struck, the UPI website reports today (April 6, 2020).

"It's a catastrophe, it really is," said Tony DiMare, a long-time tomato grower based in Palm Beach County, Florida. He said he let 10 million pounds of tomatoes rot on his farm in a region south of Miami because no market existed for them.

The closure of food-service establishments in most of the country in March meant that farmers who grow produce for those customers suddenly had a large surplus in storage and in the fields.

Growers said efforts to find retailers or food banks failed, forcing them to plow under their crops. Without immediate aid from government stimulus funding, they said they will have to destroy more food.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

US Enters Most Critical Week as COVID-19 Peaks; Surgeon Gen.: It's Worse Than Pearl Harbor, 9/11

The U.S. has entered its most critical week in the coronavirus crisis with the death toll exploding in New York, Michigan, and Louisiana and some governors calling for a national order to stay at home, the Reuters website reports today (April 5, 2020).

New York -- the hardest-hit state -- reported today that there were nearly 600 new deaths for a total of 4,159 deaths and 122,000 total cases.

Bodies of hundreds of victims of COVID-19 were stacked in bags inside a makeshift morgue outside Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said today that hard times were ahead but "there is a light at the end of the tunnel if everyone does their part for the next 30 days." He added, "This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment, only it's not going to be localized. It's going to be happening all over the country."

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Exclusive: COVID-19 May Cause Food Shortages; Begins to Put Strain on Food Growers, Deliverers

The U.S. could begin to see food shortages if the people working on the supply chain lack personal protective equipment (PPE) -- including face masks and gloves --  the Yahoo News website reports exclusively today (April 4, 2020).

Empty supermarket shelves have become one of the most jarring images of the coronavirus pandemic, which has sickened 270,000 Americans and killed 7,000. Supermarkets would be wise to limit customers to a maximum of two items of each product in their stores, in order to prevent hoarding and unnecessary over-buying.

An internal Trump administration document, dated April 2, 2020 and obtained by Yahoo News, warns that the task force had completed an analysis and there could be "commodity impacts if current PPE inventory is exhausted."

Although there is no sign of a food shortage across the nation at this time, the coronavirus pandemic is putting a strain on every aspect of the food supply chain, from the people who raise and grow what we eat to the people who deliver it to our supermarkets.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Americans See COVID-19 as Message from God; Poll:A 3rd See It as Last Days Indicated in Bible

A new survey shows that nearly half of American adults believe that the coronavirus pandemic is a "wake-up call" from God, the WND website reports today (April 3, 2020).

More than 186,000 people have been infected by the virus in the U.S. and more than 3,000 have died. The shutdown of the economy in response has cost millions of people their jobs and threatened many businesses.

The survey commissioned by the Joshua Fund found 44 percent believe the crisis is a "wake-up call for us to turn back to faith in God" and also "signs of coming judgment."

It found nearly a third see the current crisis as the part of the "last days" predicted in the Bible, and there is a feeling in the country "that Americans need to embrace faith and return to religion."

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Global Deaths from COVID-19 Now Over 50,000; Number of Coronavirus Cases Is Almost 1 Million

Global deaths from COVID-19 passed the 50,000 mark today (April 2, 2020), after Italy announced 760 new fatalities in 24 hours, according to the Euro News website.

The number of coronavirus cases stands 75,000 shy of a million. More than 200,000 have recovered from the disease.

There is a glimmer of hope in Italy that containment measures are paying off. The number of daily new infections now stands at 4,668, down from 6,153 a week ago.

More than 10,000 medical personnel have been infected in Italy and 69 doctors have died, according to the National Institutes of Health and the Italian Association of Doctors.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Trump Gets Plane of Med. Supplies from Russia; Critics: Trump Fell into a Russian Publicity Ploy

Russia claimed today (April 1, 2020) that it sent a plane full of medical supplies to the U.S. -- two days after a secret phone call between President Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, according to the Daily Beast website.

Footage from the plane  broadcast by Russian state media showed stacks of cardboard boxes in the cargo hold, but it was not known exactly what these hundreds of boxes contained.

Critics have said that, in accepting help from Russia, the White House is falling for a Kremlin public relations ploy.

Putin spokesman Dmitri Peskov told reporters that Trump "gratefully accepted" the aid during a phone call between the two on March 30.