The timing of Winter Storm Elliott couldn’t have been worse. One of the coldest Christmas storms in modern memory, it formed in the Pacific Northwest and intensified in the Great Lakes, bringing blizzard conditions to several states.
By Christmas Eve, Elliott’s strong winds and brutally cold temperatures were affecting the entire eastern two-thirds of the country at the year’s busiest travel time. Approximately 20,000 flights were canceled across the long weekend, leaving thousands of travelers stranded at airports over Christmas.
Those who stayed home were also affected. More than 60 percent of the American population was under winter weather alerts, including windchill alerts. The windchill drove temperatures to -40°F/C in some parts of western states.
Many states also suffered from power outages. At one point on Christmas Eve, up to 1.7 million customers lost power on the East Coast.
Buffalo, NY, was worst hit, with 27 dead, some frozen in stranded cars unreachable by emergency services. New York Governor Hochul said the storm will “go down in history as the most devastating” ever to hit the state.
But North America wasn’t the only continent to experience extreme holiday weather.
In Australia, military helicopters airlifted hundreds of people from communities cut off by “once-in-a-century” floods in Australia's sparsely populated northwest area known as “the Kimberley.” The heavy rain was sparked at the start of 2023 by Ellie, a severe former tropical cyclone. It caused “the worst flooding Western Australia has had in its history,” an official said.
Jesus foretold that natural disasters would increase in the run-up to His second coming. It’s definitely getting closer.
“Winter storm Elliott: Blizzard kills 56 and grounds 17,000 flights in warzone-like conditions,” Yahoo, Dec. 26, 2022, and “‘Once in a century’ flood cuts off communities in northwestern Australia,” Reuters, Jan. 8, 2023.
Stores across the nation faced increasingly bold organized thefts in 2022. For example, in late November, in Palo Alto, CA, two men stole devices valued at $35,000 from an Apple store. Then they left in a getaway car.
Organized Retail Crime (ORC) typically involves teams of people entering a store and brazenly taking items off the shelves, then just walking out. They may become violent if challenged.
According to The National Retail Security Survey 2022, 81 percent of participating retailers reported that ORC offenders are more violent than they were a year ago. Over one-third of respondents (35.9 percent) reported that they are much more violent.
Shoplifting costs US stores over $45 million a day according to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention. Target alone reports losing $600 million in a fiscal year through ORC and other theft.
Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said Walmart may resort to closing stores in response to the new levels of theft and violence. Walgreens has already started doing this.
The Bible predicts that “evil men…will grow worse and worse” (2 Tim. 3:13), and we are certainly seeing an escalation of blatant commandment-breaking. According to the Bible, there’s worse to come, but the time when God steps in to end all evil is coming too.
“Walmart CEO Doug McMillon Says Organized Retail Theft Could Lead to Stores Closing,” Entrepreneur, Dec. 7, 2022, and “Police, Retailers Work to Crack Down on Increasingly Brazen Shoplifting Ahead of Holidays,” NBC Washington, Nov. 22, 2022.
When Rory McCarty stopped by Walmart on December 15, 2022, to buy batteries, the store was quiet, so he started chatting with the cashier, 82-year-old “Butch” Marion. As Marion shared his life story, McCarty began videoing their conversation.
Marion is a Navy veteran who served in Cuba and Vietnam. He and his wife were living in Florida when her ex-husband got cancer, so she and Marion cared for him until he died.
Then, sadly, Marion’s wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. He left his job and cared for her until the end, too. Afterwards, he returned to his hometown, Cumberland, MD, to be near his siblings and took a job at Walmart. At 82, he was still working there to cover his bills.
Remembering a video on TikTok that raised thousands to help an older lady, McCarty asked Marion if he could post the video of their talk. It went viral! He also started a GoFundMe account for Marion which totaled $110,000 by Christmas. Now the octogenarian could retire!
Marion saw God’s hand in it. “It’s a miracle,” he said. “This will allow me to pay off my bills, including my house. I’ll be able to travel to Florida whenever I want and see my kids. I’m very, very blessed!”
The Bible says the love of many will grow cold at the end of time, but Jesus also described faithful, selfless individuals giving food, clothes, and shelter to “the least of these My brethren” before His second coming. Matt. 25:40. Let’s ask Jesus for His eyes to see people around us who might be “the least of these.”
“‘It's a miracle’: TikToker raises thousands to help Navy vet retire,” Cumberland Times-News, Dec. 26, 2022.
CRISPR is a revolutionary new gene-modifying technology that uses sequences of an organism’s own DNA and its associated proteins to edit base pairs of genes. It’s modeled after what bacteria do naturally in their defense against viruses. Here’s what early CRISPR scientists observed in bacteria that helped them understand how to use the mechanisms for genetic editing.
Whenever a virus attacks bacteria, the bacteria take a “picture” of the virus and put it in their own genetic material. When the virus attacks again, the bacteria remember it and use a little guide RNA and a pair of enzyme “scissors” to cut up the invading virus. This allows the bacteria to have an adaptive immune system, meaning every time a new virus comes along, they take and store that picture so they can fight off the virus the next time.
By studying the adaptive response of bacteria, researchers have discovered a way to use this same tool to disable, change, or replace any sequence of genes in plant, animal, and human DNA.
In the ten years that CRISPR technology has been available, it’s already being used to research cures for genetic disorders like sickle cell anemia, Huntington’s disease, and some cancers. It is also being used to develop plants with higher yields and food animals with less fat and larger muscle mass.
Gene editing also raises a host of moral and ethical questions—especially as the technology becomes more developed. Who decides where the ethical line is? Who will enforce that line? In 2018, when a controversial scientist created human “CRISPR babies,” the scientific community was aghast and his country promptly jailed him. But no one can really stop this from happening again.
The Defense Department is helping to create something called anti-CRISPR—because you could imagine a bad actor using this gene-editing technology to do something harmful.
Human research has opened another Pandora’s box. And like a sharp knife, CRISPR technology makes us more efficient at either helping or harming our world.
“CRISPR Scientist's Biography Explores Ethics Of Rewriting The Code Of Life,” NPR, Mar. 8, 2021.