Cleveland peaceful after officer’s acquittal; Duggar police records destroyed (UCNN Weekend Report #136)

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Texas lawmakers approve pastor protection bill; Ireland approves same-sex marriage (UCNN Weekend Report #135)

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ISIS takes Palmyra in Syria; Gov. Haley holds prayer rally in S. Carolina (UCNN #644)

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Obama signs police Blue Alert bill into law; Iraq prepares for counter-offensive near Ramadi (UCNN #643)

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1. According to USA Today, President Obama has signed into law a measure that will require instant nationwide “Blue Alerts” to warn about threats to police officers and help track down the suspects who carry them out. The Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act of 2015 is named for the two New York Police Department officers killed in an ambush attack last December. The assailant, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, had killed his girlfriend earlier in the day, and then threatened on his Instagram account to kill police officers in retaliation for the recent police killings in Ferguson, Mo. and New York City. But that information never made it to New York. The system is modeled after Amber Alerts for abducted children and Silver Alerts for missing seniors. It’s the 12th bill Obama has signed into law so far this year.

2. According to Reuters, Iraqi security forces on Tuesday deployed tanks and artillery around Ramadi to confront Islamic State fighters who have captured the city in a major defeat for the Baghdad government and its Western backers. As pressure mounted for action to retake the city, a local government official urged Ramadi residents to join the police and the army for what the Shi’ite militiamen said would be the “Battle of Anbar”. The White House said a U.S.-led air campaign would back multi-sectarian Iraqi forces in their attempt to regain Ramadi, whose fall exposed the limits of U.S. airpower in its battle against the radical Sunni Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria.

3. According to the AP, An estimated 21,000 gallons of crude oil dumped into the ocean from a broken pipeline just off the central California coast before it was shut off on Tuesday, creating a spill stretching about 4 miles along the beach. Santa Barbara County health officials have shut down Refugio State Beach, the central site of the spill, though many had abandoned the site already because of the foul smell. The pipe is operated by Plains All American Pipeline LP who did not respond to messages for comment.

4. According to Huffington Post, The Federal Trade Commission, along with officials from every state in the country, announced on Tuesday that they were filing charges alleging that four cancer charities misled donors and stole nearly $200 million. In a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, the commission accused four charities along with former and current organization officials of misleading donors about the services they provide and misusing over $187 million. The complaint claims that the charities misrepresented themselves by claiming to provide legitimate assistance to cancer patients, helping with costs for things like transportation to chemotherapy. In reality, the FTC alleges, the charities used the money for things like luxury cruises, jet ski outings and to pay family members’ salaries.

5. According to Reuters, Colombian rescuers on Tuesday continued searching for victims of a landslide that sent torrents of water and mud crashing onto a neighborhood in the town of Salgar, killing 78 people and injuring dozens in the worst disaster of its kind for a decade. Rescue efforts using search dogs resumed at dawn after being suspended overnight to find a still unknown number of people missing since the landslide occurred in the early hours of Monday. The national disaster unit said in a statement that 78 were killed and at least 40 others had been treated for injuries. The homes of more than 500 people were destroyed or damaged.

6. According to The Washington Post, The Waco, Tex., sports bar where a meeting of outlaw motorcyclists turned into a bloodbath Sunday is closed for good, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported. Less than 24 hours after a spasm of deadly violence at the Waco Twin Peaks left nine dead and 18 wounded and led to 170 arrests, a spokeswoman for the Dallas-based chain told the Tribune-Herald that “the Waco location will be closed and will not reopen.”

7. According to The Associated Press, The State Department has proposed releasing portions of 55,000 pages of emails from former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton by next January. The department made the proposal in a federal court filing Monday night, in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by Vice News. In the filing, a State Department official said the department plans to post the releasable portions of the 55,000 pages on its website. He said the review will take until the end of the year — and asked that court to adopt a completion date of Jan. 15, 2016.

8. According to Reuters, A conductor critically injured in last week’s deadly train derailment in Philadelphia has sued Amtrak, accusing the publicly funded passenger rail company of negligence, his lawyer said on Tuesday, adding to a string of lawsuits since the crash. Emilio Fonseca was taking a restroom break in the first car during his work shift when the passenger train went off the rails, attorney Bruce Nagel told a news conference, saying the train suddenly surged forward and then crashed. Fonseca, who is married and lives in Kearney, New Jersey, suffered a broken neck, back and both shoulders, and was believed to be the most severely injured Amtrak employee. He is among five people still in critical condition and is expected to remain hospitalized for several weeks. Eight people died and more than 200 others were injured.

9. According to NY Times, The Obama administration on Tuesday announced the arrest of a Chinese professor and the indictment of five other Chinese citizens in what it contended was a decade-long scheme to steal microelectronics designs from Silicon Valley companies. The indictment was the broadest since five members of the People’s Liberation Army were indicted last year by the United States, accused of hacking into the computer systems of American companies to steal technology for state-owned companies. The arrest and indictments revealed on Tuesday seemed bound to revive the tensions with Beijing.

10. According to CBN News, Students at a Welsh university voted to ban Bibles from residence halls in the name of “multiculturalism.” Placing Gideon Bibles in dorm rooms is a long-standing tradition at Aberystwyth University, the alma mater of Britain’s Prince Charles. But following a decision by the Student Union alleging that Bibles could offend non-Christians, they will be removed at the end of this academic year.

As you go throughout this day, keep this word in mind: Romans 15:5-6 says, “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Thomas A. Edison said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

God loves you. He always has and He always will. He loves you so much that the Bible says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, why don’t you get to know Him today. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose by the power of God for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Thanks so much for listening. May God bless your day.

Largest Christian celebration in modern Jerusalem set to take place; Group condemns Air Force general for mentioning God in speech (UCNN #642)

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Yemen ceasefire ends, airstrikes resume; Kenyan pastors tell Obama not to promote homosexuality in their country (UCNN #641)

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Bodies of 8 missing in Nepal chopper crash found; Projectile reportedly struck Amtrak train before derailment (UCNN Weekend Report #133)

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ISIS captures Ramadi; Slain Mississippi police officer laid to rest (UCNN #640)

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1. According to Reuters, Islamic State militants raised their black flag over the local government compound in the Iraqi city of Ramadi on Friday after overruning most of the western provincial capital. The insurgents attacked Ramadi overnight using six suicide car bombs to reach the city center, where the Anbar governorate compound is located. Fighting continued on Friday in parts of Ramadi and government forces were still in control of a military command center in the west of the city. If Ramadi were to fall completely to Islamic State it would be a strategic blow to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s government, barely six weeks after the army and Shi’ite militias recaptured the city of Tikrit from Islamic State.

2. According to Hattiesburg (Miss.) American, In his 34 years, Hattiesburg Police Department Patrolman Benjamin J. Deen managed to live a life that meant so much to so many others. Thursday, his family asked that his life have an even bigger impact with his death. Deen was the first of the two Hattiesburg police officers who lost their lives Saturday to be laid to rest. Deen and Patrolman Liquori Tate both died from single gunshot wounds inflicted during a traffic stop. They were the first HPD officers killed in the line of duty in more than 30 years.

3. According to The Washington Times, China is offering to sell Jordan missile-firing drones to fight the Islamic State terror army, according to a U.S. congressman. Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, said in a letter on Thursday to President Obama, “I am now aware that China is presently in Jordan to discuss operations, logistics and maintenance associated with the urgent sale of weaponized unmanned systems.” Rep. Hunter has pressed the Obama administration — to no avail — to approve the sale of Predator unmanned surveillance aircraft to the kingdom.

4. According to The Washington Post, As Europe struggles to stem a spring flood of migrants from Africa and the Middle East trying to cross a deadly Mediterranean Sea, Israel has begun to toughen its stance toward refugees. Israeli authorities are sending letters to the first of 45,000 Eritrean and Sudanese refugees, informing them they have 30?days to accept Israel’s offer of $3,500 in cash and a one-way ticket home or to an unnamed third country in Africa, or face incarceration at Saharonim prison. Israeli leaders have proclaimed that their tough approach — building a fence along its border, denying work permits for illegal migrants, forcing them into a detention center in the desert — may ultimately save lives by dissuading migrants from attempting a perilous journey. Critics of the Israeli policy counter that a country built by refugees should be more accepting of those fleeing war, poverty and oppression.

5. According to Religion News Service, After decade-long resistance, the Southern Baptist Convention will admit missionary candidates who speak in tongues, a practice associated with Pentecostal and charismatic churches. The new policy, approved by the denomination’s International Mission Board on Wednesday, reverses a policy that was put in place 10 years ago. Allowing Southern Baptist missionaries to speak in tongues, or have what some SBC leaders call a “private prayer language,” speaks to the growing strength of Pentecostal churches in Africa, Asia and South America, where Southern Baptists are competing for converts and where energized new Christians are enthusiastically embracing the practice.

6. According to the AP, Nepalese rescuers on Friday found three bodies near the wreckage of a U.S. Marine helicopter that disappeared earlier this week while on a relief mission in the earthquake-hit Himalayan nation, and officials said it was unlikely there were any survivors from the crash. The helicopter was carrying six Marines and two Nepalese army soldiers.

7. According to Reuters, Eight people were killed, including seven children, when a rocket hit a residential building in the city of Benghazi in eastern Libya on Thursday, two days after a similar attack claimed by Islamic State militants. A Reuters reporter saw several dead children in a hospital in the city, the oil-producing North African state’s second largest, where army forces and Islamist factions have been fighting each other for a year. The other person killed in Thursday’s rocket strike was an adult whose gender was not immediately known and 11 people were wounded.

8. According to The Wall Street Journal, As the Supreme Court considers whether to strike down state laws barring same-sex couples from marrying, let’s take a step back and look at how far the nation has moved on attitudes toward gays and lesbians. In 2003, 56% of Americans opposed allowing gay and lesbian couples to enter into same-sex marriages. The March Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll-like other national polls-found that 59% of Americans favor same-sex marriage. But Americans’ increasing acceptance of gays and lesbians goes well beyond support for same-sex marriage. 76% of Americans say that when it comes to the way society deals with homosexuality, we have reached a reasonable balance (32%) or not gone far enough in ending discrimination against homosexual people (44%). By contrast, just 20% of Americans believe that we have gone too far in accepting homosexuality. In 2006, 43% of Americans said they would be enthusiastic or comfortable with a gay or lesbian as president. Today that share has jumped 18 points, to 61% of Americans.

9. According to AFP, Seventy-two people died when a fire tore through a footwear factory in Metro Manila, authorities said yesterday, while survivors blamed barred windows for the disaster and described sweatshop conditions. Nearly all of those killed in Wednesday’s five-hour blaze were trapped on the second floor of the two-story building, unable to break steel bars over the windows. Philippine Secretary of the Interior Mar Roxas promised justice for the people killed as he expressed anger over a lack of fire exits and the reported cause of the blaze — welding that was being carried out near flammable chemicals.

10. According to the AP, B.B. King, the legendary blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist, died Thursday in Las Vegas. He was 89 years old. Attorney Brent Bryson told The Associated Press that King died peacefully in his sleep at 9:40 p.m. local time at his home, where he had been in hospice care. Bryson added that funeral arrangements were being made. Although King had continued to perform well into his 80s, the 15-time Grammy winner suffered from diabetes and had been in declining health during the past year. He had 15 biological and adopted children. Family members say 11 survive.

As you go throughout this day, keep this word in mind: Ecclesiastes 11:5 says, “As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.”

Maltbie Davenport Babcock said, “What a man says and what a man is must stand together.”

God loves you. He always has and He always will. He loves you so much that the Bible says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, why don’t you get to know Him today. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose by the power of God for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Thanks so much for listening. May God bless your day.

Vatican recognizes ‘state of Palestine'; Black box recovered from Amtrak wreckage (UCNN #638)

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1. According to the AP, The Vatican has officially recognized the state of Palestine in a new treaty. The treaty, which was finalized Wednesday but still has to be signed, makes clear that the Holy See has switched its diplomatic relations from the Palestinian Liberation Organization to the state of Palestine. The Vatican had welcomed the decision by the U.N. General Assembly in 2012 to recognize a Palestinian state. But the treaty is the first legal document negotiated between the Holy See and the Palestinian state and constitutes an official recognition. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is due to see Pope Francis on Saturday before the canonization of two new saints from the Holy Land a day later.

2. According to the AP, Philadelphia’s mayor says the Amtrak train equivalent of a black box has been recovered from the wreckage of the crash that killed at least six people. Officials held a news conference Wednesday morning to give an update on the investigation into the derailment. Mayor Michael Nutter says the train conductor was injured in Tuesday night’s crash and received medical treatment. Another city official says hospitals have treated more than 200 people from the crash.

3. According to Rasmussen Reports, Eight weeks of U.S. military exercises this summer in several southwestern states – dubbed Jade Helm 15 – have some wondering if the government is preparing for martial law. Most voters don’t oppose such exercises, but a surprising number worry about what the federal government is up to. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 65% of Likely U.S. Voters favor the U.S. military conducting training exercises in their state. Just 16% are opposed, but slightly more (19%) are undecided. But 45% of voters are concerned that the government will use U.S. military training operations to impose greater control over some states, with 19% who are Very Concerned. Just over half (52%) are not concerned that the government has an ulterior motive for the training exercises, including 26% who are Not At All Concerned.

4. According to USA Today, The White House threatened to veto a defense bill Tuesday night, objecting to a provision that imposes “onerous” restrictions on the president’s ability to move detainees from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. The veto threat was the 27th so far this year, and President Obama remains on pace to issue more veto threats to this Congress than any president since the Reagan administration formalized the practice. He’s made good on two of those veto threats so far this year.

5. According to the AP, It’s the last chance for prosecutors and lawyers to make a case for life in prison or the death penalty for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev when they present their closing arguments to the jury. The jury is expected to begin its deliberations late Wednesday after it hears closing arguments and instructions from the judge. Judge George O’Toole Jr. told jurors before closing arguments that they only have two choices for punishing Tsarnaev: life in prison without the possibility of release or the death penalty.

6. According to CNBC, Moody’s downgraded Chicago’s credit rating down to junk level “Ba1″ from “Baa2.” The announcement, which the ratings agency released Tuesday afternoon, cited a recent Illinois court ruling voiding state pension reforms. Moody’s said it saw a negative outlook for the city’s credit. Following that May court decision, Moody’s said it believes that “the city’s options for curbing growth in its own unfunded pension liabilities have narrowed considerably.”

7. According to the AP, A South Korean soldier shot his fellow reservists at a mandatory training session in Seoul on Wednesday, killing two and injuring two others before killing himself. The 24-year-old soldier, surnamed Choe, abruptly turned around after firing one round during shooting training and fired seven rounds with a K-2 rifle at his fellow reservists. He then used the ninth of the 10 bullets he’d been given to kill himself. It was not immediately known why Choe opened fire.

8. According to the AP, A day after lengthy talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was filling in allies during a gathering of NATO foreign ministers in the southern Turkish town of Antalya. The ministers have gathered here to plot strategy amid the continued crisis in Ukraine and instability throughout the Middle East, including in neighboring Syria and Iraq. Kerry was also meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

9. According to Reuters, Apparel retailer American Apparel Inc said former Chief Executive Dov Charney sued the company and its chairman Colleen Brown, alleging defamation and mental and emotional distress. American Apparel said on Wednesday it would “vigorously dispute” the claims. The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday in California Superior Court, seeks a minimum of $20 million in damages.

10. According to The Root, Saida Grundy, a sociology professor headed to Boston University, caused quite the stir with a few recent tweets aimed at “white college males” whom she believes make up a “problem population.” Grundy, whose Twitter account is now private, also tweeted, “white masculinity is THE problem for America’s colleges.” Some deemed her tweets racist and on Tuesday, Grundy apologized for the tweets, which were publicly criticized by the university president.

As you go throughout this day, keep this word in mind: Isaiah 40:8 says, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”

Samuel Smiles said, “Lost wealth may be replaced by industry, lost knowledge by study, lost health by temperance, but lost time is gone forever.”

God loves you. He always has and He always will. He loves you so much that the Bible says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, why don’t you get to know Him today. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose by the power of God for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Thanks so much for listening. May God bless your day.

Nepal hit by another strong quake; Texas lawmakers warned against passing bill on same-sex marriage (UCNN #637)

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