One city ‘ready to explode’ as U.S. murder rates surge in pandemic

By Nathan Layne

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (Reuters) – Elijah Ross stood watch last Friday by the candles, flowers, liquor bottles and balloons at a memorial for his 31-year-old friend, Eric Ruise, among the latest victims of a murder spree gripping the city of Rochester, New York.

It had been two days since Ruise was gunned down in a barrage of bullets, from multiple shooters, outside a pharmacy. Ruise had been recently released from prison. He had committed, Ross said, to be a better father to his 10-year-old daughter, Jumyria.

“It makes no sense,” said Ross, 34, adding that no witnesses have stepped forward in the “broad daylight” murder. “This is the streets, the ‘hood.”

As Ross spoke, Jumyria’s mother picked up litter around the makeshift memorial. Such tributes have become a common sight in the poorer neighborhoods of Rochester, a city of 206,000 people in the northwestern part of the state. And the bloodshed in Rochester reflects a wave of violence in cities nationwide since last year.

With 34 homicides already this year, Rochester is on pace for a record-high 70 murders in 2021 – a per-capita rate that exceeds Chicago, one of America’s most violent large cities. Among cities with fewer than 500,000 people, Rochester saw the third-largest jump in its per-capita rate during the 12 months ending in April, according to americanviolence.org, a crime-mapping website led by Patrick Sharkey, a Princeton University sociology professor. Only New Orleans and Oakland saw bigger increases.

The rising violence in Rochester and nationally came as the coronavirus pandemic caused an economic crisis and the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police last summer ignited nationwide protests and undermined relations between police and communities.

The per-capita murder rate climbed 30 percent in 2020 among 34 major cities surveyed by Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri in St. Louis. Murders in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago accounted for 40 percent of the 1,268 additional people killed in 2020, compared to the previous year, in the cities Rosenfeld studied.

In the first quarter of 2021, the research showed, the murder rate had declined from a peak the previous summer but was still up 24 percent over the first quarter of 2020. U.S. President Joe Biden pledged on Wednesday to go after the “merchants of death” who traffic illegal guns and to boost funding for local law enforcement nationwide.

The factors driving the violence are complex. Economic shocks such as the pandemic often spark a rise in crime. And some criminologists believe the national uprising over police killings of Black people, including Floyd, made residents of high-crime areas even less likely to assist police investigations, exacerbating a longstanding problem and emboldening violent criminals.

Rosenfeld said murders in the cities he studied peaked last summer as protests over Floyd’s killing raged and police departments nationwide came under intense public scrutiny. He believes, however, that this summer will be less deadly and noted that violent crime rates still remain well below a peak in the 1990s.

That’s little comfort right now in Rochester, where murders are still on the rise. Malik Evans, who this week defeated incumbent Mayor Lovely Warren in the Democratic primary, made combating gun violence a central campaign theme. In the heavily Democratic city, Evans is all but assured of winning the Nov. 2 general election.

Evans said the murder surge reflects rising problems with drug trafficking, criminal gangs and illegal firearms during the pandemic. While campaigning, he proposed naming a gun czar to work with federal officials to address the smuggling of guns into New York. He pointed to a 2016 state attorney general’s study that concluded three-fourths of seized guns came from other states.

“It’s a combustible fire that is getting ready to explode when you put all those things together,” Evans told Reuters shortly before his primary election victory, during a tour of Genesee Street, a thoroughfare and the site of many recent shootings.

The Rochester Police Department did not respond to questions about the causes of the rising homicide rate and its strategies to address the violence. The city’s police union, the Rochester Police Locust Club, said the department has only 12 investigators to pursue murder cases. Police data show that about two-thirds of this year’s cases remain open and unsolved.

‘PANDORA’S BOX’

Christopher Wood, 18, left a corner convenience store on June 12, walking with a 13-year-old boy down Genesee Street when they were both shot. Wood died. His companion, who has not been identified, survived.

Rochester Police have not disclosed any suspects or motives. The shooting illustrates troubling trends: Of the 186 shooting victims so far in 2021, nearly half were 25 years old or younger, and 90 percent were Black, police data show.

Wood’s sister, Shamarla Grice, told Reuters her brother had been devastated by the death of their mother in August from COVID-19. Afterward, he started hanging out with “older guys that were probably in gangs.”

Demond Meeks, a state lawmaker representing Rochester, said the city needs to provide better jobs for young people and to educate parents on signs that their children are involved with gangs.

“We do know that there is gang violence,” Meeks said at a gathering of 20 anti-violence advocates in a local park on June 16, following the Ruise shooting. “We have to come to grips with that.”

During the two-hour meeting, members of nonprofit organizations proposed violence prevention strategies including conflict-resolution training in schools and door-to-door canvassing in troubled neighborhoods. One man discussed his “Men Made Better” program to engage with young men through chess.

Midway through the meeting, Wanda Ridgeway of the nonprofit Rise Up Rochester slapped the table in disgust. She had just gotten a call about another shooting.

“I’m tired of our kids going around killing each other,” said John Rouse, 53, at the meeting. “It’s like Pandora’s box is open, and chaos is everywhere.”

‘WORSE THAN EVER’

Many community advocates in Rochester have called for better police protection while also demanding more accountability for police misconduct. It’s a delicate balance: Some worry efforts to rein in rogue officers may have the unintended consequences of restraining legitimate police work and empowering violent criminals.

The Ruise shooting occurred a few blocks from where Daniel Prude had an altercation with police in March 2020. Prude, who is Black, stopped breathing at the scene. He was revived but died a week later at a hospital.

The incident ignited protests and led to the resignation of Rochester’s police chief. Police body-camera footage released months later shows Prude naked and facedown in the street. Officers put a hood over his head after Prude, apparently suffering a mental crisis, said he had contracted COVID-19.

A grand jury earlier this year voted not to indict the officers involved. The outpouring of anger over the incident has sparked new efforts to combat police misconduct, including a $5 million city grant to hire 50 employees to investigate allegations against officers.

Rochester police did not respond to questions about efforts to prevent police misconduct.

Many community leaders cheered the extra scrutiny on the department. Clay Harris isn’t among them. He’s the founder of Uniting and Healing Through Hope of Monroe County, a local advocacy group focusing on violence. He said he’d rather see that $5 million spent on more officers to fight violent crime, which he attributes to a breakdown of families and an abandonment of Christian faith.

“They are not the problem,” said Harris, who is Black, of the city’s police force. “We are the problem as citizens.”

One evening last week, Retha Rogers and other members of anti-violence groups toured the neighborhood where her son was fatally shot in 2009.

“Every time that I hear that someone has been shot, it brings back memories of my son, and my heart goes out to the mothers,” Rogers said as she handed out flyers seeking information about her son, Michael Washington, Jr. “It’s worse than ever.”

At about the time Rogers’ group ended its meeting in prayer, police rushed to the scene of yet another murder across town. Brandon McClary, 22, had been gunned down by multiple shooters on Genesee Street.

(Reporting by Nathan Layne in Rochester, New York; additional reporting by Hussein Waaile and Lindsay DeDario in Rochester; editing by Brian Thevenot)

Protective gear, cellphone, video chats: How America’s clergy minister to COVID-19 patients

By Rich McKay

(Reuters) – Reverend Manuel Dorantes closed his eyes, took a breath to calm his fear and prayed when word came that Cardinal Blase Joseph Cupich had put out a call for volunteers.

Cupich, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, needed two dozen young priests to take on the sacred duty of administering the last rites to those dying from the new and highly contagious coronavirus.

For the priests, like doctors, nurses and other frontline workers, it means putting their lives at risk to care for the sick in hospitals.

“I know the consequences,” said Dorantes, 36. “We are called to do this.”

Throughout history, priests and other clergy have risked their lives ministering to the dying through population-decimating plagues and on the battlefields of wars.

But in the face of COVID-19, which has killed more than 150,000 people worldwide and about 33,000 in the United States, the Vatican last month waived the requirement for in-person worship and sacraments, including a special dispensation for believers who cannot receive the last rites.

Many faiths and denominations in America have taken similar unprecedented actions, as the coronavirus has upended one of the most sacred duties of clergy of most major faiths – ministering to the dying and comforting the bereaved.

The disease has forced clergy to rely on technology. Cell phones or iPads are held at the bedsides of very ill patients by nurses and orderlies.

During funerals, they preach to empty pews during services shared using sites such as Zoom and FaceTime. Graveside prayers can be attended by the barest few, sometimes just three mourners.

For clergy, this is the new normal, said United Methodist Bishop Thomas Bickerton, a member of the denomination’s ruling council of bishops, which has halted in-person worship services.

JUMP SUITS AND MASKS

Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner, head rabbi at Temple Emanu-El in Closter, New Jersey, said many hospitals won’t allow bedside visits by anyone, including clergy.

“We don’t even bother to ask,” said Kirshner, 46, who leads a conservative congregation of about 800 families. “It’s too dangerous.”

But the rabbi asks nurses or orderlies to hold an iPad so patients can see it. They then pray together. “It’s very, very important that we at least offer that.”

Some burials that under Jewish tradition should be held within a day have to wait a week or more, the rabbi said, in places where cemeteries and funeral homes are beyond capacity.

One Muslim imam said many funeral homes in the United States are no longer allowing the Islamic ritual of washing the body before burial, for fear of spreading the disease.

“For the family it’s tough because they cannot mourn the same,” Daoud Nassimi, an imam in Washington D.C., told the online publication Middle East Eye.

About 3 million Americans identify as members of the Episcopalian Church, which is largely relying on video chats and phone calls by priests to make that last connection with those on the brink of death, according to Reverend Lorenzo Librija of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

A few weeks ago, he came up with a plan to organize the effort. It is called “Dial-a-Priest” and is aimed at helping people who do not have a relationship with a local church, but still want to receive the last rites.

“We picked that name because it’s easy to remember and easy to Google,” said Librija.

His group has about 100 retired ministers who have volunteered to man telephones around the clock, ready to give the ritual ministration of death from the Book of Common Prayer.

The Archdiocese of Chicago, with its 24-member last rites team, is one of the few places in the nation where in-person visits to patients near death have continued in hospitals.

Dorantes, pastor of Chicago’s Saint Mary of the Lake parish, said he has conducted several bedside rituals since he volunteered in late March.

He and the other priests don protective jump suits and N95 respirator masks. Wearing gloves, they take a dab of blessed oil and make the sign of the cross on the patient’s forehead and hands using a Q-tip.

“Laying on of hands and anointing, this is the sacrament of the church, a visible sign of invisible grace,” he said. “I could see it in their eyes, incredible moments of grace.”

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

Prayer in schools, New Guidance from the White House to Protect Students’ Rights

Folded hands over Bible.

By Kami Klein

Prayer in schools is a hot button topic but receives very little attention from mainstream media. Last week on National Religious Freedom Day this issue received the White House’s full attention when President Trump announced that it is taking action to further safeguard students’ constitutionally protected right to pray in school.

In 1962 the Supreme Court ruled that leading public prayer in classrooms violated a First Amendment clause forbidding the establishment of a government religion. Contrary to popular myth, the Supreme Court has never outlawed “prayer in schools.” Students are free to pray alone or in groups, as long as such prayers are not disruptive and do not infringe upon the rights of others. But this right “to engage in voluntary prayer does not include the right to have a captive audience listen or to compel other students to participate.” (This is the language supported by a broad range of civil liberties and religious groups in a joint statement of current law.)

In a White House article, The Department of Education has said that it is proposing additional regulations and guidance, including a regulation laying out that “a public institution of higher education cannot deny a religious student group the same benefits, privileges and rights that other secular student groups have.” With the updated guidance on prayer in public schools, the department will also be “fulfilling a statutory requirement to issue guidance on constitutionally protected prayer in public elementary and secondary schools.” This guidance is required to be updated every two years but hasn’t been updated since 2003. The guidance will now spell out processes for reporting allegations of religious discrimination in schools to the department.

Foremost on the guidance are requirements giving education providers and students the most current information concerning prayer in public schools. This update will help safeguard students’ rights to prayer, making clear that students can read religious books and material or pray during recess and other non-instructional periods, organize prayer groups, and express their religious beliefs in their assignments.

Local educational agencies must confirm that their policies do not prevent or interfere with the constitutionally-protected rights outlined in the guidance in order to receive Federal funds This new action will also help improve individuals’ ability to file a complaint if they are denied participation in protected religious expression.

To ensure that the Nation’s religious organizations are treated equally by the Federal government the administration is also issuing nine proposed rules to protect religious organizations from unfair and unequal treatment by the Federal government. The proposed rules would eliminate burdensome requirements that unfairly imposed unique regulatory burdens only on religious organizations.

Federal agencies will also be receiving a memo requiring them to safeguard grantmaking practices of state recipients of Federal funding to comply with the First Amendment to ensure religious organizations can compete on a level playing field for funding without discrimination.

During his first year in office, President Trump signed an Executive Order upholding religious liberty and the right to engage in religious speech as well as signing an Executive Order recognizing the essential contributions of faith-based organizations and establishing the Faith and Opportunity Initiative.

Last year, President Trump hosted a Global Call to Protect Religious Freedom event at the United Nations and called on the international community and business leaders to work to protect religious freedom around the world.

Resources:  CNNWhite House Government briefing Freedom Forum Institute Voice of America 

9/11 We will not forget!

By Kami Klein

On September 11th, 2001, we witnessed the worst of humanity; an evil we could not imagine. Over 3000 lost their lives that day when a group of terrorists shook our nation to its core. The loss of so many rippled throughout the world.  Families were torn apart within a few hours. The grief was unimaginable and America’s heart was broken. 

 After the attacks, countless stories unfolded revealing extraordinary acts of courage, sacrifice, kindness, and compassion. In the aftermath of the World Trade Center in New York City alone over 16.000 people performed rescue, recovery, demolition and debris cleanup.  These amazing men and women did not know or care about the dangers of their task but rose up in tremendous courage to show the best of what America stands for. 

Ground zero contained toxic dust that held heavy metals and asbestos and other dangerous chemicals.  We are seeing the aftermath years later as countless of these heroes of 9/11 have died or are very sick from illnesses related to this tragedy.  Scarring in the lungs has effected hundreds of responders and experts say this is only the beginning.   

So far, 156 New York City police officers have died from 9/11 related illnesses. 182 in the Fire Department. Countless others are facing debilitating lung disease and aggressive cancers. 

We cannot forget those who lost their lives on 9/11.  We cannot forget now, those that are still giving their lives for our country because of that day and the days following 9/11.  

Eighteen years ago, the nation turned to God.  The churches were filled and prayers were said all over the world. We embraced each other no matter what political belief or religious faith. We were not offended by each other because together we were at war with evil. 

We are still at war but somehow we have turned on one another. 

The attack of 9/11 is not over.  Our heroes from that day are the victims now. We must remember those who are still suffering and fill our churches with faith and prayer. We the people of the United States must feel called upon to honor these brave men and women.  May we come together again, as we did on that day when Love won over hate, Good over evil, and all of us remembered that we are Americans and were willing to sacrifice for each other.

The Lord worked through the very best of us that day and continued doing so during the months and years that have passed. In our prayers, in our memories, and in the stories that we must pass on, these are the people and heroes we cannot afford to ever forget!   

 

Thousands pray for rain in Indonesia as forests go up in smoke

Indonesian Muslim women pray for rain during a long drought season and haze in Pekanbaru, Riau province, Indonesia, September 11, 2019 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Rony Muharrman/ via REUTERS

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Thousands of Indonesians prayed for rain in haze-hit towns on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo on Wednesday, as forest fires raged at the height of the dry season, the state Antara news agency reported.

Fires have burnt through parts of Sumatra and Borneo island for more than a month and the government has sent 9,000 military, police and disaster agency personnel to fight the flames.

Indonesia’s neighbors regularly complain about smog caused by its forest blazes, which are often started to clear land for palm oil and pulp plantations.

But Indonesia said this week it was not to blame and fires had been spotted by satellites in several neighboring countries.

Several parts of Southeast Asia have seen unusually dry conditions in recent months including Indonesia, which has seen very little rain because of an El Nino weather pattern, its meteorological department has said.

Some communities have taken to prayer in the hope of ending the dry weather, and the haze it brings.

Thousands of people in Pekanbaru, capital of Riau province in Sumatra, held Islamic prayers for rain outside the governor’s office. Many of those taking part wore face masks to protect themselves from the smoke, Antara reported.

“We’re doing everything we can, now we pray to Allah for the rain,” deputy provincial governor Edy Nasution told the news agency.

Similar prayers were held in towns in Kalimantan, the Indonesian side of Borneo, where air quality has been at unhealthy levels and schools have been forced to close, the news agency said.

Mosques in Malaysia have also been encouraged to hold prayers for rain, said the head of Malaysia’s Islamic Development Department, Mohamad Nordin, according to the state news agency Bernama.

Indonesian authorities are using 37 helicopters and 239 million litres of water bombs to attack the blazes, the disaster agency said on its Twitter account, while aircraft were seeding clouds in the hope of generating rain.

The agency said 5,062 fire “hot spots” had been detected in six Indonesian provinces, as of Wednesday morning.

Endro Wibowo, deputy police chief of the town of Sampit in Central Kalimantan province, said his team was working around the clock to put out the fires.

Police were also taking legal action to deter farmers from illegally using fire to clear land, Antara reported.

Criminal cases have been initiated against 175 people in different places on suspicion of starting fires while four palm oil companies were facing charges of negligence, police told media.

The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) said small-scale farmers were being blamed for fires started by palm oil plantation companies.

“Actions by the central and local governments have not been strong enough against companies in industrial forests or palm plantations on peat lands. They always blame the community,” said Muhammad Ferdhiyadi of the group’s South Sumatra branch.

(Reporting by Gayatri Suroyo and Jessica Damiana in JAKARTA; Additional reporting by Rozanna Latiff in KUALA LUMPUR)

Special Show taping of The Jim Bakker Show on Biblical Prophecy, and what the Bible says about recent violent mass killings

Pastor Jim Bakker - Prayer Mountain Chapel

On Tuesday, August 6th, in a very special show taping, Pastor Bakker will be teaching on what the Bible says about the hurt, hatred and Biblical prophecy concerning mass shootings and violence in the United States and in this world. This special message will be a live taping on Grace Street, Tuesday, August 6th at 11:30 am ct followed by another show taping featuring Jim and Lori Bakker with guests Frank Davis and Megan Poling.  This special show with Jim Bakker will be aired on Friday, August 9th. We encourage you to watch and hear the Word of God.  

In a statement released on Sunday, August 4th, 2019 Pastor Jim Bakker wrote: 

“Lori and I are grieving along with millions of Americans for those who were killed and injured in the pair of mass shootings that took place just hours apart! Jesus said let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid, you believe in God, believe also in me.

I believe this is the beginning of the second horse of the four horses of the Apocalypse. Revelation 6:4; “And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another.” I will deal with more on this subject on our television program.

Love in Christ, Jim Bakker”

If you are unable to be here for the live taping Tuesday, Aug 6th, please be sure and tune in to this extremely important teaching with Pastor Bakker when it airs on Friday, August 9th.  You can find out where The Jim Bakker Show is airing in your area by following this link or join us on the PTL Network from your Roku, Apple TV, or Amazon Fire TV devices. You can also tune in on jimbakkershow.com or ptlnetwork.com! 

 

Please pray for our country and for those who have been touched by these tragedies.  

 

‘Thank You’ – Queen Elizabeth, President Trump and world leaders applaud D-Day veterans

French President Emmanuel Macron, Britain's Charles, Prince of Wales, Britain's Queen Elizabeth, U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump participate in an event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day, in Portsmouth, Britain, June 5, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

By Dylan Martinez and Steve Holland

PORTSMOUTH, England (Reuters) – Queen Elizabeth was joined by world leaders including Donald Trump and Angela Merkel to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, paying personal tribute to the veterans of the largest seaborne invasion in history which helped bring World War Two to an end.

The queen, Prince Charles, presidents and prime ministers rose to applaud veterans, their coats heavy with medals, as they stood on a giant stage beside a guard of honor after a film of the Normandy landings was shown.

“The wartime generation – my generation – is resilient, and I am delighted to be with you in Portsmouth today,” the 93-year-old queen, wearing bright pink, said.

“The heroism, courage and sacrifice of those who lost their lives will never be forgotten. It is with humility and pleasure, on behalf of the entire country and indeed the whole free world that I say to you all: thank you.”

Prime Minister Theresa May was joined for the commemorative events in Portsmouth by U.S. President Trump, who is on the final day of a state visit to Britain, and his wife, Melania.

Trump read a prayer given by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944: “The enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.”

French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, German Chancellor Merkel, and leaders and senior figures from 10 other countries also attended.

Soldiers stay stand for the event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day, in Portsmouth, Britain, June 5, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Soldiers stay stand for the event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day, in Portsmouth, Britain, June 5, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

BLOOD AND THUNDER

In the early hours of June 6, 1944, more than 150,000 allied troops set off from Portsmouth and the surrounding area to begin the air, sea and land attack on Normandy that ultimately led to the liberation of western Europe from the Nazi regime.

By the time of the Normandy landings, Soviet forces had been fighting Germany in the east for almost three years and Kremlin chief Josef Stalin had urged British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to open a second front as far back as August 1942.

The invasion, codenamed Operation Overlord and commanded by U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, remains the largest amphibious assault in history and involved almost 7,000 ships and landing craft along a 50-mile (80-km) stretch of the French coast.

Shortly after midnight, thousands of paratroopers were dropped. Then came the naval bombardment of German positions overlooking the shore. Then the infantry arrived on the beaches.

Mostly American, British and Canadian men, some just boys, waded ashore as German soldiers tried to kill them with machine guns and artillery. Survivors say the sea was red with blood and the air boiling with the thunder of explosions.

Thousands were killed on both sides. Line upon line of white crosses honor the dead in cemeteries across northern France. Even the codenames of the sectors of the invasion – Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword – can draw tears from veterans.

“I was terrified. I think everyone was,” said John Jenkins, 99, a veteran who landed at Gold Beach. “You never forget your comrades because we were all in it together.”

The commemorations featured an hour-long performance recounting the wartime events and a flypast by historic, military aircraft. Afterwards, world leaders met veterans of the landings.

The queen, President Trump, Melania and Prince Charles shook hands with half a dozen veterans were waiting for them, exchanging a few words and asking them about their stories from D-Day.

Sixteen countries attended the commemorations: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Poland, Slovakia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

They agreed a proclamation to “ensure that the unimaginable horror of these years is never repeated”.

Merkel said Germany’s liberation from National Socialism brought about something “of which we can be proud.”

“Reconciliation, and unity within Europe, but also the entire post-war order, which brought us peace, for more than seven decades so far,” she said. “That I can be here as German Chancellor, that together we can stand for peace and freedom – that is a gift from history that we must cherish and preserve.”

On Wednesday evening, some 300 veterans who took part on D-Day, all now older than 90, will leave Portsmouth on a specially commissioned ship, MV Boudicca, and retrace their 1944 journey across the English Channel, accompanied by Royal Navy vessels and a lone wartime Spitfire fighter plane.

(Writing by Michael Holden and Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Frances Kerry and Toby Chopra)

Doctors pray for sick as blackout batters Venezuelan hospitals

Venezuelans, including doctors, hold banners that read "Solidarity" as they gather outside a church after a mass during an ongoing blackout in downtown Caracas, Venezuela March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Marco Bello

By Mayela Armas

CARACAS (Reuters) – Maria Rodriguez’s daughter has spent a month in Caracas’s J.M. de los Rios children’s hospital with hydrocephalus, a buildup of spinal fluid in the brain, but staff there have faced an uphill battle treating the girl because of a nationwide power outage.

“It has been horrible since the blackout. My daughter needs treatment that lasts six hours: now she is only getting it when there is power available,” said Rodriguez, 36, who said she is also worried about inadequate water and food in the facility.

Venezuela’s hospitals, already struggling with shortages of supplies and equipment amid an economic meltdown, entered crisis mode on Thursday when the South American nation’s power system went down.

Public hospitals typically have generators to provide back-up electricity in the event of an outage, but doctors consulted by Reuters said they were either damaged or idled for lack of fuel.

Julio Castro of the non-governmental organization Doctors for Health says the blackouts have stretched Venezuelan hospitals to the breaking point. The group says at least 21 people have died in public hospitals during the outage.

“This (blackout) is taking place at a moment when hospitals are operating at limited capacity,” Castro said. “It is not the same as when a hospital is functioning correctly.”

Among the most prone to electricity problems in hospitals are newborns, he said. About 10 percent of the 1,500 children born each day in Venezuela require incubators or other such equipment that cannot function without steady power.

Even before the blackouts, the state of the healthcare system was dire. In a report last year, Doctors for Health said doctors in more than half of Venezuela’s hospitals had been attacked by people who were angry the decaying medical system could not do more for their relatives.

Not having power means hospitals struggle to obtain water, fueling sanitation problems that are aggravated by shortages of cleaning products. Constant fluctuations in electricity also risk damaging the limited equipment that hospitals have.

Socialist President Nicolas Maduro says last week’s blackout was the result of U.S.-backed sabotage, and Venezuelan health authorities say they have kept services intact despite the circumstances.

“The contingency plan has worked, problems have been corrected and patients have been transferred (to other hospitals) when they have requested it,” Health Minister Carlos Alvarado told state television on Sunday.

DOCTORS’ PRAYERS

A group of doctors on Sunday held a mass to pray for the sick, and later walked to the J.M. de los Rios hospital to seek more details about the situation there.

The doors were locked even though they arrived during visiting hours. Women shouted from the windows that they needed help and that there was no food, but police at the entrance blocked their way, according to a Reuters witness.

Several members of a police special forces group called FAES were stationed inside the hospital, according to witnesses.

Within hours, hospital director Natalia Martinho appeared on state television to assure the public everything was fine.

    ”(The) children are in stable condition. The response to this contingency has been a great achievement,” she said. “We have given food to children and their mothers.”

    But for the relatives of patients seeking hospital treatment, official reassurances are little consolation.

Maria Torres, 46, waited anxiously on Sunday outside Caracas’ El Llanito hospital, where her brother was admitted for injuries sustained in a car accident. She worried for his well-being due to the lack of water, medical supplies and electricity.

“This is a nightmare,” she said.

(Reporting by Mayela Armas; Editing by Vivian Sequera, Brian Ellsworth and Paul Simao)

Congressional chaplain can stay in job: House Speaker

FILE PHOTO: Patrick Conroy, Chaplain of the House of Representatives, leads Democrats and Republicans in prayer before they face off in the annual Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park in Washington, U.S., June 15, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said late on Thursday that the chamber’s chaplain will remain in his position, after he unexpectedly asked Reverend Patrick Conroy to resign two weeks ago, outraging some lawmakers and the Jesuit priest himself.

Conroy released a letter earlier on Thursday rescinding his abrupt resignation which Ryan, a Catholic and the top Republican in the House, said he had accepted. Conroy’s last day had been scheduled for May 24.

“My original decision was made in what I believed to be the best interest of this institution,” Ryan said in a statement. “To be clear, that decision was based on my duty to ensure that the House has the kind of pastoral services that it deserves. It is my job as speaker to do what is best for this body, and I know that this body is not well served by a protracted fight over such an important post.”

It is unusual for House chaplains to be dismissed, and Democrats said the ouster was tied to a prayer Conroy led during debate over the tax overhaul Republicans passed at the end of last year without any support from the minority party. Ryan and fellow Republicans, however, said the lawmakers needed better pastoral care.

In his statement, Ryan said he would meet with Conroy next week.

(Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Chris Reese)

POTUS Shield Heartland Convocation Begins March 20th at Morningside!

Potus-Shield

By Kami Klein

There is  a movement in our country, a movement to raise up a prayer shield over the USA..  The POTUS Shield consists of Clergy, Church Leaders, Prayer Warriors, Worshipers and Watchmen, all an anointed assembly of Christians dedicated to intercession, prayers, declarations and decrees of The Word of the Lord across our nation.  Frank Amedia and the POTUS Shield Council are leading the way to prepare for a tremendous shift in our nation! Beginning Tuesday. March 20th – Thursday, March 22nd, Morningside will be hosting the POTUS Shield Heartland Convocation!

This two and a half day event features: Morning worship with the “Heaven Sent Worship Team”, includes show tapings at 11:00 am central  of The Jim Bakker Show on Tuesday and Wednesday and our incredible speakers during evening worship beginning at 7pm Central. You will see and hear many charismatic and dynamic leaders of this prayer movement . Among these guests are:

 

Frank and Lorilee Amedia , founders of POTUS SHIELD.  Frank serves Chairman of the Council. They have been ministering for over 35 years and are founders of Touch Heaven Ministries, authors of the Deep Calls To Deep and have spearheaded the Revival One Network. Their personal heart and mission is “prepare the way for the coming of the Lord”.

Bishop Angel Nunez  has been in ministry for over 36 years and is the Bishop of the Bilingual Christian Fellowship. As Senior Pastor of the Bilingual Christian Church of Baltimore for over 27 years, he still travels as an International Evangelist winning souls for Christ..


Bishop Harry R. Jackson, organizer of “The Reconciled Church” conference,presiding bishop of the International Communion of Evangelical Churches,  and Senior Pastor of Hope Christian Church in the Washington, D.C., area.

Global Strategic Alliance President Kevin Jessup

Founder of the U.S. Hispanic Prayer Network, Mark Gonzales

Herman Matir, President of  the Emerging Leaders Network and the Asian Action Network.

Patricia Scahill who serves as Assistant Pastor at Touch Heaven Ministries and as Assistant Director to POTUS SHIELD.
And  Dr. David Herzog who has ministered in over 50 nations in both large evangelistic campaigns as well as hosting and speaking in conferences, churches, seminars, stadiums and outreaches.

We hope you will be able to attend this vital and informative POTUS SHIELD event with us here at Morningside.  If you are unable to be here for the live event, please be watching your local stations to catch The Jim Bakker Show and listen to the amazing prophetic messages from these remarkable guests.  We are also happy to offer the 7pm Central Worship Services on Live feed or on the PTL Television Network through your Roku or Apple TV.

 

Join us in this Holy Mission for our country!

 

POTUS SHIELD SCHEDULE OF EVENTS March 20-22, 2018

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

10:00 am   Prophetic Worship by Heaven Scent Worship Team

11:00 am   Jim Bakker Show taping  Guests: Frank Amedia, Mark Gonzales, and Kevin Jessip

7:00 pm     Prophetic Worship and Speaker           Speaker: Herman Martir

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

10:00 am   Prophetic Worship by Heaven Scent Worship Team

11:00 am   Jim Bakker Show taping Guests: Bishop Harry Jackson, Frank Amedia, Bishop Angel Nunez, Mark Gonzales, Herman Martir

7:00 pm     Prophetic Worship and Speaker          Speaker: David Herzog

Thursday, March 22, 2018

10:00 am   Prophetic Worship  by Heaven Scent Worship Team

11:00 am   Speaker Panel: Pastor Lorilee Amedia, Pastor Patricia Scahill and Frank Amedia