Bullet-resistant backpack sales surge
“Crayons, glue, pencils, bullet-resistant backpack. For some parents, that’s what a back-to-school shopping list looks like this year,” states Courtney Reagan at CNBC. She goes on to explain: “In recent years, there has been an increase in bullet-resistant consumer products coinciding with the rise in shootings at schools and other public places” (“Bulletproof Backpacks Have Become Another Back-to-School Staple,” Aug. 6, 2019).
The New York Times echoes: “As mass shootings become a tragic fact of life in the United States—at schools, stores, movie theaters and houses of worship— . . . [people] are investing in protective gear. In a dystopian development, a growing number of companies are offering bulletproof backpacks in back-to-school sales, marketing them to parents who are desperate to protect their children from gunmen” (David Yaffe-Bellany, “Bulletproof Backpacks in Demand for Back-to-School Shopping,” Aug. 6, 2019).
It’s reported that these backpacks doubling as “shields, which can cost up to $200, started becoming more in-demand after the Parkland, Fla., school shooting in 2018. After the El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, shootings [Aug. 3-4, 2019] . . . the products are back in the spotlight . . . Since the Parkland massacre, there’s been, on average, one school shooting every 12 days” (Jessica Campisi, “Demand for Bulletproof Backpacks Surging in the Wake of Shootings: Report,” TheHill.com, Aug. 6, 2019).
Experts have warned, however, that these backpacks are more properly labeled bullet-resistant than bulletproof, as they are designed to shield against handgun fire and not more powerful rifles like those used in most school shootings. Defending against the latter would require the backpacks be much heavier, which is not very practical when they are already laden with schoolbooks.
It’s been further pointed out that the odds of being shot in such an incident remain extremely remote across the whole population, so these backpacks could be doing more harm than good—increasing public hysteria and raising the fears of children sent off to school with these defenses. A child may wonder why a parent would send him or her into such an environment. Then again, parents don’t want to have the unthinkable happen and then lament that they might have been able to do something. It’s terribly sad that the darkening world around us has brought us to this quandary.
How wonderful it will be when Jesus Christ returns to the world and ultimately brings all people under His protection and peace—when there will be no more hurting and destroying (Isaiah 11:9) and “no one shall make them afraid” (Micah 4:4). Let’s all pray fervently for that day! (Sources: CNBC, The New York Times, The Hill).
“In God We Trust” displayed in another state’s schools
It was reported over the summer that “public school students in South Dakota [would] notice something different on their first day back to school—the national motto, ‘In God We Trust,’ prominently inscribed on walls in stencil or paint. A new state law . . . requires the message to be displayed in an area where students are ‘most likely’ to see it, such as a cafeteria or entryway” (Dani Matias, “South Dakota Public Schools Add ‘In God We Trust’ Signs to Walls,” NPR.org, July 25, 2019).
This is a step in the opposite direction from what has been happening in the past several decades in U.S. public schools. Through a couple of major Supreme Court rulings in the early 1960s, school prayer was banned as a supposed violation of constitutional principles—even though Supreme Court sessions themselves begin with the words “God save the United States and this honorable court.” Since then God has slowly been expelled from public places throughout the entire country.
Still, the national motto “In God We Trust,” official since 1956, appears on all U.S. currency and is prominently displayed atop the rostrum of the U.S. House of Representatives.
After the legislation to post the motto in schools was passed in South Dakota, many proposed suggestions were offered to make it more “inclusive.” But the state ignored the submissions and instead came up with a contingency plan to deal with any lawsuits in the months following.
South Dakota is not the first state to do this. “Within the last couple of years, six Southern states—Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Florida, Alabama and Arizona—have approved similar legislation” (ibid.).
There’s an ongoing culture war between those of faith on one side, who understand their country to have been built on principles of the Bible, and those who are seeking to remove God from the public sphere altogether—just as they expel Him from their own lives—leading to worsening societal degradation.
It was only a couple of years ago that the removal of Ten Commandments plaques from state buildings was making headlines. It will be interesting to see what the reaction will be, both popular and litigious, to these public displays of “In God We Trust” in the coming months. (Source: National Public Radio.)
Tensions rise with oil tanker seizures
In mid-July, as reported in The Wall Street Journal, “Iranian forces seized a British-flagged oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, as mounting tensions between Tehran and the West risked further disruption of commercial shipping in the strategically vital waterway” (“Iran Seizes British-Flagged Oil Tanker,” July 19, 2019).
This came a couple weeks after British forces seized and held an Iranian tanker. Then just hours after the Iranian retaliation, “President Trump said the U.S. Navy downed an Iranian drone that was flying too close to a U.S. warship in the Strait of Hormuz . . . the latest in a series of incidents that have ratcheted up tensions in a vital oil shipping route” (“Trump Says U.S. Ship Downed Iranian Drone in Strait of Hormuz,” July 18, 2019).
The United States has been mounting sanctions on Iran to force a new nuclear deal, but Iran has continued to ramp up its supply of enriched uranium. And an Iran with nuclear weapons is a terrible prospect.
The Middle East continues to be a region of conflict and uncertainty affecting the rest of the world. Sanctions, seized tankers and continued nuclear development by Iran are reasons enough to keep an eye on this region—a region prophesied to be a hotbed of contention prior to the return of Jesus Christ.
To understand more about the conflicts in this critical area, send for or download our free study guide The Middle East in Bible Prophecy. (Source: The Wall Street Journal.)
New British prime minister presses forward on Brexit, other changes
After tumultuous negotiations over Britain’s exit from the European Union, or Brexit, fell apart in Britain earlier this year, the nation elected conservative party leader Boris Johnson as its new prime minister. Mr. Johnson served as the mayor of London from 2008 until 2016, after which he spent two years as the nation’s foreign secretary.
The new prime minister laid out a bold course for the future of the United Kingdom in an impassioned speech to the British Parliament on July 25, 2019. His main goal was to make good on the 2016 Brexit referendum. He said that while he would work toward an exit deal with the European Union, he would not hesitate to leave at the end of October without a negotiated agreement. Oct. 31 was the delayed date for Brexit agreed upon by EU leaders and the previous UK administration.
Johnson stated: “Today is the first day of a new approach which will end with our exit from the EU on the 31st of October. Then our country can have a friendlier, constructive relationship as constitutional equals, as friends, as partners facing the challenges that lie ahead.” He emphasized that the British people expect its leaders to follow through on Brexit and that the government must “restore the people’s trust in democracy.”
Besides the focus on Brexit, Johnson made a number of dramatic promises about Britain’s future. He said he would carry out a “radical rewriting” of Britain’s immigration system and instructed one of the committees to review Australia’s more skills-based stance on immigration. The new prime minister said that his country’s future would be “clean, green, prosperous, united, confident and ambitious”—and that the United Kingdom will be “the greatest place on earth.” He said, “There is every chance that in 2050 . . . we will be able to look back on this extraordinary period as the start of a new golden age for our United Kingdom.”
There is a great deal more to the move to separate Britain from the European Union than news analysts realize. Most do not understand the amazing true history of the British people and what prophecy reveals about their future. The Bible unlocks the real story behind today’s nations and the news headlines. To learn more, request our free study guide The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy. (Source: Address to Parliament, BBC News).
Major Indian city runs out of water
Chennai, home to eight million people in southern India, is running out of water. Four of the city’s main water reservoirs went dry after a long drought following already-low rainfall:
“Piped water has run dry in Chennai, the capital of the southern state of Tamil Nadu, and 21 other Indian cities are also facing the specter of ‘Day Zero,’ when municipal water sources are unable to meet demand. Chennai . . . depends on the fall monsoon to provide half of the city’s annual rainfall. Last year, the city had 55 percent less rainfall than normal. When the monsoon ended early, in December, the skies dried up and stayed that way. Chennai went without rain for 200 days. As winter passed into spring and the temperature rose to 108 degrees Fahrenheit [or 42°C], its four water reservoirs turned into puddles of cracked mud.
“Some parts of the city have been without piped water for five months now. Weary women with brightly colored plastic jugs now await water tankers, sometimes in the middle of the night. On June 20, the delayed summer monsoon arrived as a disappointing light shower” (Meera Subramanian, “India’s Terrifying Water Crisis,” The New York Times, July 15, 2019).
An article in USA Today showed the impact this extreme water shortage is having: “People in India’s sixth-largest city lined up with cans amid a widespread water shortage . . . Millions of people in Chennai were affected by the short water supplies, which sparked protests, work stoppages and business closures” (Ryan Miller, “The Sixth-Largest City in India Is Running Out of Water as Reservoirs Run Dry,” June 20, 2019).
Officials have resorted to transporting water to citizens by train every day. Time magazine reported: “Amid the green Yelagiri hills of southern India, the train inches along the tracks, carrying what has become precious cargo: drinking water bound for Chennai, India’s parched Motor City.
“Demand for water in the manufacturing and IT hub on the Bay of Bengal far outstrips supply, forcing authorities to take extreme and costly measures to serve the city’s 10 million people. And so, every day, the train sets out on a four-hour, 216-kilometer (134-mile) journey, its 50 tank cars carrying 2.5 million liters (660,000 gallons) of water drawn from a dam on the Cauvery River.
“The train is classic Indian ‘jugaad,’ the Hindi word for a makeshift solution to a complicated problem. Executive engineer K. Raju confessed this is not the best engineering solution to Chennai’s water problem” (Emily Schmall, “This Indian City Doesn’t Have Enough Drinking Water—So It’s Shipping It in by Train,” July 29, 2019).
India’s water crisis is just the latest example of extreme weather occurring around the world. Think earthquakes, droughts, storms, hurricanes, wildfires, floods and more. These events have caused some to wonder if we have reached the end times described in the Bible. Our study guide Are We Living in the Time of the End? shows how to know whether the end time is here. Request or download your free copy now. (Sources: The New York Times, Time, USA Today.)