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June 2007

Nature's Fury

May has been a challenging month as unusual weather, fire and flood have been in the news:

NEW YORK (AP) -- Nature's fury made life miserable Wednesday from one end of the nation to the other, with people forced out of their homes by wildfires near both coasts and the Canadian border and by major flooding in the Midwest. ...

"It's a major flood," National Weather Service meteorologist Suzanne Fortin said Wednesday of the flooding in Missouri. "It won't be a record breaker, but it will be in the top three."

However, a three-week-old fire in southern Georgia had become that state's biggest in five decades after charring 167 square miles of forest and swamp. ...

The flooding was produced by the drenching weekend thunderstorms across the Plains states that also devastated Greensburg, Kan. In addition to 11 tornado deaths, two drowning deaths were blamed on the storms, one each in Oklahoma and Kansas.

High water had poured over the tops of at least 20 levees along the Missouri River and other streams in the state, authorities said Wednesday. ...

On the West Coast, in view of many Los Angeles residents, a blaze had covered more than 800 acres in the city's sprawling Griffith Park behind the iconic Griffith Observatory. ...

In the Southeast, a wildfire in northern Florida's Bradford County had forced the evacuation of about 250 homes, said Annaleasa Winter, a state forestry spokeswoman. That fire had blackened 16,000 to 18,000 acres and was 20 percent contained.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said the state had more than 220 active fires Wednesday that had charred a total of 125 square miles. ...

Elsewhere, a wildfire near the Canadian border in northeastern Minnesota had covered more than 34 square miles Wednesday, adding more than 8 square miles in one day, authorities said. Since it was spotted over the weekend, it has destroyed 45 buildings, including multimillion-dollar homes, and firefighters said it was just 5 percent contained. ("Extreme Weather, Fires Befall Nation," Associated Press in The Daily Progress (Charlottesville, VA), May 9, 2006)

Inspired Commentary

Inspiration indicates that the last days will be stressful:

In the last scenes of this earth's history war will rage. There will be pestilence, plague and famine. The waters of the deep will overflow their boundaries. Property and life will be destroyed by fire and flood. We should be preparing for the mansions that Christ has gone to prepare for them that love Him." (Last Day Events, p. 24)

OxyContin Deception

Officials at a drug company have agreed to a large fine in a court case:

The manufacturer of the potent painkiller OxyContin and three current and former executives at the company yesterday pleaded guilty to falsely marketing the drug in a way that played down its addictive properties and caused scores of people to become addicted, prosecutors said.

The Purdue Frederick Co. and its chief executive, top lawyer, and former medical chief agreed to pay a total of $635 million to resolve charges filed by U.S. attorney in the Western District of Virginia, who called OxyContin "one of our nation's greatest prescription-drug failures." ...

In a statement, Purdue distanced the executives from the fraudulent marketing messages disseminated to thousands of physicians and pharmacies over the past decade. The company said that the men admitted guilt under a legal principle that holds high-level officials accountable for the improper acts of others at a drug company. ...

But one health-care advocate criticized the settlement as toothless, given the estimated $9.6 billion in OxyContin sales between 2000 and last year. ("OxyContin Makers Admit Deception," washingtonpost.com, May 11, 2007

Inspired Commentary

Once again it seems, the truthfulness of the Bible statement about the love of money being the root of all evil has been demonstrated.

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Tim. 6:10)

If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there be higher than they. Moreover the profit of the earth is for all: the king himself is served by the field. (Eccl. 5:8, 9)

Militant Islam, Catholic Power, and Freedom

A recent survey indicated that while the great majority of Muslims in America reject suicide bombings of civilians, some younger folks had different opinions:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- One in four younger U.S. Muslims say suicide bombings to defend their religion are acceptable at least in some circumstances, though most Muslim Americans overwhelmingly reject the tactic and are critical of Islamic extremism and al-Qaida, a poll says.

The survey by the Pew Research Center, one of the most exhaustive ever of the country's Muslims, revealed a community that in many ways blends comfortably into society. Its largely mainstream members express nearly as much happiness with their lives and communities as the general public does, show a broad willingness to adopt American customs, and have income and education levels similar to others in the U.S. ...

While nearly 80 percent of U.S. Muslims say suicide bombings of civilians to defend Islam can not be justified, 13 percent say they can be, at least rarely.

That sentiment is strongest among those younger than 30. Two percent of them say it can often be justified, 13 percent say sometimes and 11 percent say rarely. ("Some US Muslims Justify Suicide Attacks," Associated Press in US News, May 22, 2007)

In a review by Austin Cline of the book Catholic Power vs. American Freedom, the reviewer comments:

This book is ... a historical and cultural commentary on the ways in which certain aspects of the power structure and dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church have difficulty being compatible with the power structure and ideals of American republican democracy. This doesn't mean that Catholics cannot be good Americans or that they cannot support democracy. Rather, it means that there is a necessary tension between the two which each person must find ways to resolve in order to remain as true to both as possible.

This shouldn't really be surprising to anyone. The Roman Catholic Church is not a democratic institution nor does it pretend to be. The Church does not readily accept dissent and disagreement on a wide variety of important issues - fundamental questions of morals and dogma simply are not open to debate. The ideals of American democracy, however, value exactly those principles. Perhaps they are not always honored in reality as well as they should be, but no one gets very far if they try to argue that they should be abandoned. ("Catholic Power vs. American Freedom," http://atheism.about.com/library/books/full/aafprCatholicPower.htm, n.d.)

Both major religions have principles in tension with the basic premises of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, that men are endowed by their Creator with the inalienable right to life, liberty and happiness.

Inspired Commentary

Inspired prophecy indicates that the major player in the religious area will be the Roman Catholic power. Careful Bible students are given warnings by prophecy.

When the state shall use its power to enforce the decrees and sustain the institutions of the church -- then will Protestant America have formed an image to the papacy, and there will be a national apostasy which will end only in national ruin (Last Day Events, p. 134)

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