PODCAST: US Surpasses 5 Million Coronavirus Cases (BCNN1 08/09/20)

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According to CBS News, The United States on Sunday surpassed 5 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has both the highest number of confirmed cases and the most deaths of any country in the world. The total number of confirmed cases throughout the world is nearly 20 million, meaning the U.S. accounts for roughly 25% of all cases worldwide despite only having around 4% of the global population. More than 162,000 people in the U.S. have died of complications due to COVID-19. “It’s a number that boggles the mind and breaks the heart,” presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said in a statement on Saturday as other trackers showed the U.S. hitting the 5 million case benchmark. “Five million is more than the entire population of Alabama — or of more than half the states in our union, for that matter.” California, the most populous state, accounts for the most confirmed cases in the country with more than 554,000. Florida, Texas and New York trail California, but each has more than 400,000 confirmed cases.

According to christian financial expert Michelle Singletary in The Washington Post, Eliza Briscoe was told that all she had to do was put up $500 and bring in two additional people who would each contribute the same amount of money. In a little more than four weeks, she would get $4,000 in return. Like so many others being recruited for a “sou-sou,” Briscoe was nearly duped into a pyramid scheme. It’s hard not to be sold on the altruistic and cultural backstory of the sou-sou, also known as “Susu,” “blessing loom” or “gifting circle.” Promoters pitch the sou-sou as a common practice among Caribbean and African immigrants as a way to help their businesses grow. Briscoe was told she would be helping other Black folks, some of whom may have lost their jobs because of the coronavirus. “It seemed like it was legal,” said the Maryland resident, who reached out to me as part of her due diligence research. “I didn’t want to bring anybody in unless I knew for sure, because I didn’t want anybody to lose their money.” For the past several weeks, members of my church, friends, neighbors and readers have asked me about the legitimacy of a “sou-sou” or similar schemes, in which they are promised that if they put up $100 in some cases, or $500 in others, in a month or two they would get a return eight times their cash outlay. But despite assurances by promoters, these blessing, sou-sou, or gifting circles are illegal. The hallmark of an unlawful pyramid centers on two key things: an upfront entry fee with the expectation of a significant payout and the requirement to persuade two other people to join, who then must also bring in two more recruits. Eventually, the whole enterprise collapses, and the last folks coming in — the wide base of the pyramid — lose their money. In the recruitment videos and materials I reviewed, promoters are specifically targeting Black participants, but it’s widespread in other communities, too. Personal, church or work relationships are exploited. The schemes involved different groups composed of 15 people divided into four levels: one at the top or center, two on a second level, four on the third, and eight at the bottom. In one version, the incoming eight participants each send $500 — $4,000 total — to the person at the top through PayPal, Venmo or some other cash app. The sou-sou can appear to be a success because early participants share testimonies of their substantial gains. Weekly conference calls serve to rally people with motivational presentations about how their involvement will help build wealth in the Black community. “Just don’t do it,” Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh said in an interview. “Think about it. How is it possible for everybody to get $4,000? It is a crime to be part of this and soliciting people for it. It also means that you’re putting your friends and family members at risk. There are way more victims than winners in these pyramid schemes.” Frosh said his office has seen an uptick in pyramid schemes as the pandemic has resulted in massive job losses. The Better Business Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and many other state attorneys general have issued consumer alerts. “Don’t get involved,” said John K. Jenkins, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Glenarden, where I worship. “Repeatedly, scriptures warn against seeking to get gain quickly. Proverbs 15:27 warns against ‘greedy’ gain. It brings trouble to your home.” Do the right thing and report this scam to your state attorneys general or notify the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. Even if participating in a sou-sou pyramid scheme doesn’t bring grief directly to your door, it eventually will for others, and that makes it a corrupt way to enrich yourself.

According to Reuters, A gas explosion ripped through a Baltimore neighborhood on Monday, killing at least one person, injuring four and trapping children as the blast destroyed at least three homes, firefighters said. Fire officials described it as a natural gas explosion but said the exact cause was under investigation. The blast destroyed three brick row homes and ripped open the wall of another, spreading debris throughout the neighborhood. Rescuers picked through the rubble, searching for victims with their hands and hand tools, Baltimore City Fire Department spokeswoman Blair Adams told reporters at the scene. One woman was killed, four people were hospitalized in serious condition, and firefighters were trying to rescue a sixth person, fire officials said. At one point at least five people were trapped, some of them children, the Baltimore Firefighters IAFF Local 734 said on Twitter. Neighbors responding to the blast dug through rubble and called out for victims. One neighbor told the Baltimore Sun he could hear shouts from trapped children. “Come get us! We’re stuck!” came the cries, Kevin Matthews told the Sun. Matthews found one person buried from the neck down and another sheltering in a closet, the Sun said. “You knew it was something catastrophic,” Dean Jones told WBFF television about hearing the blast. “I didn’t think. I didn’t grab shoes. I took off running. I followed the smoke. I started yelling to come help.” Jones and several other neighbors freed at least one woman from the scene. “Once they said a kid was in there, I lost it. I said I had to get in there now,” Jones told WBAL television. But he also wanted no special accolades, saying, “I am not a hero, I’m a human.” Neighbors said their windows were blown out and doors blasted off the hinges, the Sun reported.

According to CBN News, It started with a van full of paint cans on the streets of New York outside the Black Lives Matter mural in Midtown Manhattan. And then Bevelyn Beatty began her task, dropping to her knees with paint in hand, yelling, “They don’t care about Black lives, they’re liars.” Finally came her arrest as she chanted, “Jesus matters. Jesus matters. Stand up. Take your country back.” Bevelyn Beatty’s actions and video went viral last month, and she tells CBN News she had one thing on her mind the whole time. “I have to paint this mural. I have to cover this mural,” she explains from her home in New Jersey. “I was so tired of this Black lives matter narrative … we’re going to hit it. We’re going to fight and we’re going to stand, and God is with me. And that was it.” To understand Beatty’s actions and motive, you need to know her backstory. She grew up in the inner city on welfare. After seeing people close to her die, Beatty went out on her own, got into trouble and seven years ago, wound up in jail on money laundering charges. It was there someone shared the gospel with her and she gave her life to Jesus Christ. “When I got out of jail, honey, you couldn’t get me to steal a pack of bubble gum,” she said. “You couldn’t get me to do nothing.” As a changed woman, Beatty became a Christian activist in the fight against abortion working for At Well Ministries. Today, she’s speaking out against the Black Lives Matter organization, especially the part of its creed about how they look to disrupt the “western prescribed nuclear family structure.” “Black Lives Matter is against Black men because a man is truly not a man unless he’s a leader in his own family,” she said. “This is a portion of his identity because this is what God ordained from the beginning.”

According to the LA Times, Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine is quite literally taking its activism to the streets — posting 26 billboards across Louisville, Ky., demanding justice for Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old emergency medical technician who was killed in her apartment by police in March. The billboards, one for each year of Taylor’s life, were erected in Taylor’s hometown on Aug. 6, the magazine said. They feature the magazine’s September cover image of Taylor with a call to action that reads: “Demand that the police involved in killing Breonna Taylor be arrested and charged.” It also includes a quote from Winfrey’s September issue essay that says: “If you turn a blind eye to racism, you become an accomplice to it.” The signage appears all over Louisville, including downtown, South End and West End. Last week, the magazine marked a milestone with its decision to put Taylor on its cover. It’s the first time someone other than Winfrey graced the glossy front in the magazine’s 20-year history. The portrait of Taylor was created by 24-year-old artist Alexis Franklin. Taylor was killed just after midnight on March 13 when Louisville police, executing a search warrant, forced their way into her home. Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired a shot at an officer’s leg. The police fired back with at least 20 bullets, striking Taylor eight times.

According to Faithwire, Entertainment mogul Tyler Perry is distancing himself from the portion of the Black Lives Matter movement advocating the dismantling and defunding of police departments around the country. In fact, the A Fall From Grace producer told CNN’s Anderson Cooper the work to shrink and even eliminate police forces “troubles me.” During their discussion last week, Perry told the anchor he believes the country needs “more” police officers—not fewer. “I’m worried now, because of what I’m seeing,” he said. The 53-year-old Perry, who is a Christian, told Cooper he is “not for taking money from the police department.” Rather, he explained, “I think we need more police. My studio is in a neighborhood where I think we need police.” “But we don’t need police that are undertrained,” he continued. “And you got to understand, I have really close friends who are police officers that I love dearly who are really good people, who have been very, very hurt by this as well. Millions of Americans across the country, he told the CNN host, agree with him when it comes to the necessity of police. “There are a lot of people in America who feel the way that I do, right?” Perry told Cooper. “I think we need the police. I know that I need the police; I have several that work for me here at the studio. We need them. But we need them reformed; we need them trained well; we need the right structure.”

According to Tillymann Entertainment, Award-Winning Artist, Accomplished Actress, Songwriter, Producer, and Businesswoman Tamela Mann released her powerful new single, “Touch From You,” on Friday, August 7. The single, released by Tillymann Music and distributed by The Orchard, is impacting Gospel radio and is available on streaming platforms and from digital retailers. Propelled by the Grammy®-Award winner’s strong, passionate voice, the song, originally slated to release this fall, is meant to serve as healing for a hurting people left with fears, questions, and anxiety about what is happening in the world today. Tamela decided to release the song as a reminder that there is still love, hope and compassion in the world. BET Gospel, BET Her and BET Soul premiered the new single’s music video on Sunday, August 9. “I hope this song will touch people, especially during the pandemic and civil unrest across the nation,” Tamela says. “One part of the lyric goes, ‘Can you hear the voices of your people crying out?’ People are crying out for so many different things. They’re praying now more than ever. We need God’s touch. We need the Lord to send a cleansing. We need a refreshing. We need to know the Lord is with us.” While she was filming the music video for her new single, Tamela was hit in the face by a fast-moving drone as she was standing on the edge of a cliff. She continued to forge ahead, despite small cuts on the side of her face. “I was calm and once we finished, I said, ‘The enemy is mad because he knows that this is about to help and bless so many people,’” she says. “It was the craziest thing how it happened. I couldn’t believe how calm I was.”

You can read these stories and more at BlackChristianNews.com .

In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. 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 Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart 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 and may God bless your day!