Outbreaks of animal-to-human diseases such as monkeypox and Lassa fever are becoming more persistent and frequent and are spreading, the World Health Organization's (WHO) emergencies director, Mike Ryan, warned recently. By June 1, the WHO had received reports of more than 550 confirmed cases of monkeypox from 30 countries since the first report in early May 2022.
Scientists and health officials cite climate change and “ecological fragility” as contributing to the unprecedented spread of disease from animals to humans.
"Unfortunately, the ability to amplify that disease and move it on within our communities is increasing, so both disease emergence and disease amplification factors have increased," said Ryan.
Although all the mechanisms that spread disease rapidly from animals to humans and then worldwide are not entirely clear, the WHO is focusing on preparedness for future pandemics.
“Pandemics, like climate change, affect every citizen on the planet,” Ryan said.
"We've seen the difficulties we faced in this pandemic [COVID-19], and we may face a more severe pandemic in the future. We need to be a lot better prepared than we are now," he warned.
"We need to establish the playbook for how we're going to prepare and how we're going to respond together. That is not about sovereignty. That's about responsibility."
The WHO’s proposed “playbook” would eliminate national sovereignty in an international health crisis and has raised alarm among many nations. Their concerns are relevant in light of prophecies in the book of Revelation that describe the end-time world united through coercion. Yet two things seem certain: we cannot rule out the possibility of future pandemics, and there definitely are political lessons to be learned from our experience with COVID-19.
Ukrainians are facing a major food crisis with global fallout. The statistics are sobering. Before Russia’s invasion, Ukraine was the world's fourth-largest exporter of corn and the fifth-largest exporter of wheat, according to the US State Department. The UN’s World Food Program, which helps combat global food insecurity, normally buys almost half of its wheat from Ukraine each year.
According to the UN, the total number of people in the world without adequate food every day increased by 40 million last year, confirming a “worrisome trend” of annual increases over several years. The situation in Ukraine will increase that trend.
Ukraine’s crisis and its effect on world food shortages are aggravated by two factors. First, Russia is blocking Ukraine’s ability to export food. Most of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports are now under Russian control, and many road and rail routes out of the country have been destroyed.
“The world community must help Ukraine unblock seaports, otherwise the energy crisis will be followed by a food crisis and many more countries will face it,” President Zelensky said in May.
Second, Ukraine's Defense Ministry estimated that since the invasion Russia has removed some 400,000 tons of grain from Ukraine, both to Russia and elsewhere. Recent satellite pictures confirmed that Russian bulk carriers were loading grain at the Crimean port of Sevastapol.
Ukrainians themselves are facing the prospect of famine. Ukraine's minister of Agrarian Policy and Food, Taras Vysotsky, said that 100,000 tons of grain had been taken from its grain-growing regions. The grain was from stores set aside to be used before the next harvest.
The prospects for this year’s grain crop are also in doubt with some farms destroyed and many farmers engaged in combat.
An unusual phenomenon is taking place in the Muslim world. Jesus has been personally appearing to people in vivid dreams. Many receiving these dreams are faithful followers of Islam, and almost none of them have any prior knowledge of the Bible or of Jesus Christ (Isa Al-Masih). Their dreams typically feature one or more of three thematic elements: a Man in white (often showing scarred hands) calls for them to follow Him, reveals biblical passages to them, and says, “I am coming soon.”
This dream phenomenon has been growing rapidly. It’s estimated that up to 80 percent of recent converts from Islam began their faith journey after a dream or vision of Jesus Christ.
Here are two examples from a website where Muslims can report their dreams and receive help to understand their meaning:
“In my dream a Man in white was covered with bright light. He handed me a book and told me, ‘Read it to prepare for the judgment day.’ I asked Him, ‘Who are You?’ He told me, ‘Read the book. In it you will learn of Me.’ I opened the book, and the first thing I saw was, ‘In the beginning was the Word.’ Then I woke up.
“I know that Isa Al-Masih is the word of Allah. Did I see Him? Please, can you help me?”
“I had a dream. I saw a Man sitting on a throne. There were many angels worshiping Him, singing, ‘You are worthy to have all the glory.’ Then the Man looked at me. He smiled and said, ‘Do you believe in Me? I am the beginning and the end. I love you very much.’ Then I knelt and worshipped Him. He touched my head, and I saw a scar in His hand. Then I woke up. Please, can you help me understand this dream? Thank you.”
Christian evangelism is outlawed in most Muslim countries, making the progress of Christian missions slow. Now we’re seeing Christ Himself accelerating the work. Surely, His second coming is near!
Source: Abed Al-Masih, Adventist Frontier Missions, Jan. 1, 2021.
A 2021 study conducted by researchers in the Yale Department of Psychology found that users who received more “likes” and “retweets” when they expressed outrage in a post were more likely to express outrage in later posts.
The Yale team measured the expression of moral outrage on Twitter during real-life controversial events and studied the behaviors of subjects in controlled experiments designed to test whether social media’s algorithms, which reward users for posting popular content, encourage outrage expressions. The results show that social media’s incentives are changing the tone of political conversations online.
They also discovered that while members of politically extreme networks expressed more outrage, members of politically moderate networks were more influenced by social rewards.
“They are more sensitive to social feedback that reinforces their outrage expressions,” said Molly Crockett, a study coauthor. “This suggests a mechanism for how moderate groups can become politically radicalized over time: the rewards of social media create positive feedback loops that exacerbate outrage.”
She comments, “Given that moral outrage plays a crucial role in social and political change, we should be aware that tech companies, through the design of their platforms, have the ability to influence the success or failure of collective movements.”
“Our data show that social media platforms do not merely reflect what is happening in society. Platforms create incentives that change how users react to political events over time.”
Source: Bill Hathaway, Yale News, August 13, 2021.