This is the Urban Christian News podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.
According to ABC News, Criminal charges have been filed against three Pennsylvania police officers in connection with the shooting death of an 8-year-old girl and the wounding of three others at a high school football game last year. The girl, Fanta Bility, was killed on Aug. 27 when gunfire broke out shortly after the conclusion of a game at Academy Park High School in Sharon Hill, a community of about 5,700 residents near the Philadelphia International Airport. Bility’s sister and two others were injured. Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer announced the charges Tuesday against three Sharon Hill Police officers — Devon Smith, Sean Dolan and Brian Devaney — in connection with Bility’s death. The officers face a total of 12 criminal counts of manslaughter and reckless endangerment “for their actions that night,” according to a statement from the district attorney’s office. Preliminary findings in the investigation found that return fire from the police officers after a gunfight between two teens likely struck and killed Bility, prosecutors announced in September, less than a week after the shooting. “We have now concluded beyond a reasonable doubt that it was, in fact, shots from the officers that struck and killed Fanta Bility and injured three others,” the statement from the district attorney’s office read. A grand jury recommended charges of voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment, which were all approved by the district attorney’s office.
According to the Daily Mail, At least three people have been killed and more injured after a 50ft tsunami triggered by an underwater volcano exploding slammed into Tonga, the government has said in its first update since the ‘unprecedented disaster’. The dead include a 65-year-old woman on Mango Island, a 49-year-old man on Nomuka Island, and 50-year-old Briton Angela Glover who was found dead on Tongatapu Island on Monday. An entire village on Mango Island has been swept away by the tsunami, the government said today, with just two buildings left standing on Fonoifua Island. Namuka Island also has ‘extensive damage’. Rescue operations including evacuations of Mango, Fonoifua and Atata islands are underway, with ‘a number of’ injuries also reported – though government officials could not say how many. Communications from Tonga, a remote set of Pacific islands with a population of 105,000, have been sparse since disaster struck late Saturday when the Hunga-Tonga volcano dramatically exploded – sparking a tsunami, covering nearby islands in ash, and severing an undersea internet cable connecting the country with the outside world. While early reports from the islands were encouraging, as the days have gone on the picture has darkened. Aid workers on the main island of Tongatapu say the death toll there is likely to be limited, but fears are growing for hundreds of people who live on smaller outlying islands and have not been heard from since the eruption.
According to FOX LA, A combined $250,000 reward is being offered to help Los Angeles Police track down the person responsible for killing UCLA graduate student Brianna Kupfer in a random daytime attack at a luxury furniture store. The reward, which is a combination of public and private funding, is being offered for information leading to the arrest or conviction of 31-year-old Shawn Laval Smith in the stabbing death of the 24-year-old last Thursday. Kupfer was working as a consultant for Croft House on North La Brea Avenue and was alone in the store when a man entered the business. She texted a friend saying that she was getting a “bad vibe” from the man, but unfortunately, the friend didn’t get the text in time, authorities said in a press conference Tuesday. A short time later, the man attacked her with a knife. The Los Angeles Police Department said the suspect was a “random walk in to the store.” On Tuesday evening, LAPD identified Smith as the suspect wanted in connection to Kupfer’s death. After the attack, the suspect was seen on security video casually walking down the back alley of the businesses toward Oakwood Ave. About 20 minutes later, a customer came in and found Kupfer dead in a puddle of blood on the floor of the store. “This individual responsible for this vicious, senseless and brutal crime walks among us,” LAPD Chief Michel Moore said. “I am convinced of that.” But he added that the LAPD was “pulling out every stop” to ensure Kupfer’s killer is brought to justice. Kupfer went to Brentwood High School and the Universities of Miami and Sydney. Her Dad described her as their sweet angel, smart, devoted to her family, with lots of friends, big dreams and her whole life ahead of her. The young woman’s father is crushed and blamed local politicians for allowing criminals to run rampant on the streets.
According to Faithwire, Thousands of pastors across North America have reportedly come together to protest Bill C-4, a Canadian law that took effect Jan. 8 after reportedly being pushed through Parliament with little debate. The claim is that Bill C-4 is broadly worded and could, in effect, ban biblical teachings on sexual ethics, and impact even personal communications on the subject. Preachers are protesting the law at the pulpit, with 4,000 pastors affirming their opposition as well as willingness to speak out against it. John MacArthur of Grace Community Church in Los Angeles is among the pastors who have been vocal on the issue. He recently warned that such crackdowns will likely ramp up, especially as Christians refuse to cave. “Ultimately, the dissenters, the ones who will not cave in, are going to be those who are faithful to the Bible. And that’s what’s already leading to laws made against doing what we are commanded to do in Scripture, which is to confront that sin,” he told Fox News. “And that’s just going to escalate.” MacArthur added, “I think it’s reached a level there in Canada that it hasn’t yet reached here, but it’s coming. It’s coming fast.” The preacher isn’t alone in voicing concern. Liberty Coalition Canada, a legal group that educates Canadians about the intersection of faith and governance, organized a clarion call for pastors to step up to the plate and discuss these issues. In an article titled, “Bill C-4: How Should The Church Respond?” the organization expressed worries that even parents could be imprisoned for trying to help their children escape “sexual sin through repentance and faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” The organization asked all Christian churches in Canada to come together and defend biblical truth.
According to the New York Times, Microsoft said on Tuesday it planned to buy the powerhouse but troubled video game company Activision Blizzard for nearly $70 billion, betting that video games will become an increasingly central part of people’s digital lives. The blockbuster acquisition, the largest ever by Microsoft and for the gaming world, would catapult the company into a leading spot in a $175 billion industry that is successful on virtually every kind of device, from bulky gaming consoles to mobile phones, and has reached even greater heights during the pandemic. Technology companies are swarming around the industry, looking for a bigger share of attention and money from the world’s three billion gamers. In an industry driven by blockbuster franchises, Activision makes some of the most popular titles, including Call of Duty and Candy Crush. Yet the company has been roiled by employee revolt over accusations of sexual harassment and discrimination in recent months. The deal may also strengthen the company’s hand in the so-called metaverse, the nascent world of virtual and augmented reality. The metaverse is more of a buzzword than a thriving business now, but it has attracted huge amounts of investment and talent. Phil Spencer, the chief executive of Microsoft’s gaming business, said that whatever the metaverse may end up being, “gaming will be at the forefront of making that mainstream.” For now, he said, the acquisition was about gaining a stronghold in mobile gaming, where Microsoft barely competes, and a studio that produces blockbuster games.
According to the Hill, The political preferences among Americans shifted from Democratic to Republican over the course of 2021, according to a new Gallup survey. In the first quarter of last year, 49 percent of Americans said they identified as a Democrat or a lean-Democratic independent, while 40 percent said they were a Republican or a lean-Republican independent. But over the course of the year, the percentage of those identifying with the left started to decrease, while more people began to align themselves with the right. The percentage of Americans who identified as Democrats or lean-Democratic independents remained steady at 49 percent in the second quarter, while more Americans said they were Republicans or lean-Republican independents, increasing from 40 percent to 43 percent. Democrats saw a drop of 4 percentage points in the third quarter, falling to 45 percent, while Republicans continued to increase their base, gaining 1 more percentage point to bring them to 44 percent. By the fourth quarter of last year, more Americans said they identified with the right compared to the left, 47 percent to 42 percent. Gallup noted, however, that the Republican Party’s advantage over Democrats in the U.S. appears to be tapering off, as the polling group found that the GOP currently has just a 2 percent point lead over Democrats, 46 percent to 44 percent. The Gallup numbers provide a look at the U.S. as the country prepares for November’s midterm elections, when Democrats and Republicans are both looking to secure control of Congress next year after two years of razor-thin margins.
According to the New York Post, After several weeks away with a serious case of COVID-19, Stephen A. Smith returned to ‘First Take’ and gave a public service announcement about his experiences with the virus, in addition to his inevitable trolling of the Dallas Cowboys and their fans. Smith explained that he was hospitalized over New Years, and that he didn’t know if he was going to make it. “For me personally, it hit me differently,” he said. Smith tested positive in mid-December but it really hit him right before his hospitalization. “You’re assuming that you’ll have a fever, might have a cough, gonna have that massive headache — but you’ll get over it,” he said. “In a lot of cases that was the case. In my case it was totally different. I had 103 degree fever every night. Woke up with chills and a pool of sweat. Headaches were massive. Coughing profusely. And it got to a point where right before New Year’s Eve, I was in the hospital into New Year’s Day. That’s how I brought in the New Year.” He said that his doctors told him he would have died had he not been vaccinated. “They told me, had I not been vaccinated, I wouldn’t be here. That’s how bad it was. I had pneumonia in both lungs. My liver was bad. It had ravaged me to the point where even now I have to monitor my volume — get to the gym every day, walk before you run. Work your way back because I’m still not 100 percent with my lungs, but I’m COVID negative. I’m on the road to recovery.” Smith advocated for people to wear masks to protect others. “Everybody’s different,” he said. “My sister smokes and she had COVID and she was fine in 3-4 days. Me? I don’t smoke and it almost took me out. I think the one thing to emphasize the importance of, no matter how you feel about the vaccine, that mask is important. The reason why the mask is so important is you don’t know how the next person is affected. How I’m affected is different from how you are affected.”
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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!