Signs of the Times: Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21

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Here is a collection of stories showing just how close we really are to the return of Jesus! All the signs He tells us in Scripture, the Birth Pains, are happening all around us. Keep looking up!

25 Volcanoes Showing Abnormal Activity: Presidential Aide
January 15, 2012

 

Padang, West Sumatra. Twenty-five volcanoes in Indonesia are now showing abnormal activity or have been put on alert or watch status, presidential special aide Andi Arief said here on Saturday.

“According to official data, 25 volcanoes are now under alert or watch status and they must be given priority with regard to disaster mitigation planning at district or city levels,” he said at a workshop on journalists’ role in disaster management.

He said in West Sumatra there were two volcanoes that need to be closely watched, namely Mount Marapi and Mount Talang, as they are still under alert status.

Mount Marapi is located in Agam and Tanahdatar districts and rises 2891 meters above sea level, and Mount Talang (2597 meters above sea level) in Solok district was located around 40 kilometers from the provincial capital Padang.

Apart from the two volcanoes, the government and regional disaster management agencies were also giving priority attention to Mount Papandayan in West Java, Mount Karangetan and Lokon in North Sulawesi, Mount Ijen in East Java, Mount Gamalama in North Maluku, Mount Krakatau in Banten and Lampung and Mount Lewoloto in East Nusa Tenggara.

He said “it is not impossible that volcanoes that are now still normal could change to become abnormal due to earthquakes that have happened to trigger magma in the mountains to increase their activity, and therefore alertness and readiness of the people must continue to be maintained.”

Andi said earthquakes below five on the Richter Scale could trigger magma in the volcanoes to rise and so people must not only be alert over big but also small tremors.

The 4.4 magnitude earthquake like the one in Singkawang, West Kalimantan, is one of the examples, where people had never predicted before that it could happen there, he said.

“The small magnitude quake is now being studied by researchers with regard to minimizing the damage in case an eruption happens in the country as there are a lot of volcanoes in Indonesia,” he said.

“Totally drug-resistant” tuberculosis strain worries Indian doctors

(CBS/AP) Totally drug-resistant tuberculosis? That’s what doctors are calling the long-feared and virtually untreatable form of the killer lung disease that’s striking people in India.

It’s not the first time highly resistant cases like this have been seen. Since 2003, patients have been documented in Italy and Iran. It has mostly been limited to impoverished areas, and has not spread widely. But experts believe there could be many undocumented cases.

The airborne disease is mainly transmitted through close personal contact and isn’t nearly as contagious as the flu. Most cases of this “drug-resistant” TB have not been from person-to-person infection but mutations that have occurred in poorly treated patients. No one expects the Indian TB strains to rapidly spread elsewhere.

Is this particular disease actually drug-resistant? There is still debate within the public health community – the World Health Organization hasn’t accepted the term, calling the cases “extensively drug-resistant TB,” or XDR. But Dr. Paul Nunn, a coordinator at the WHO’s Stop TB Department in Geneva, said there is ample proof that these virtually untreatable cases do exist.

“It is concerning,” said Dr. Kenneth Castro, director of the CDC’s Division of Tuberculosis Elimination. “Anytime we see something like this, we better get on top of it before it becomes a more widespread problem.”

Ordinary TB is cured easily with six to nine months of antibiotics. But if that treatment is interrupted or if the dose is cut down, the stubborn bacteria battle back and mutate into a tougher strain that can no longer be killed by standard drugs, making the disease both more difficult and more expensive to treat.

Doctors in Mumbai have reported a total of 12 patients who failed initial treatment and also didn’t respond to other medication given over an average of two to three years. One doctor, Zarir Udwadia, said in a phone interview that there is little hope for the surviving nine patients, all poor slum dwellers living in the community. He criticized the testing and treatment methods of the Indian government’s TB program, saying, “It was a given that this would happen. They have had no help from the Indian TB system. They are the untouchables, so no one is making a fuss. They don’t have the power to vocalize. There’s going to be more family contacts. It’s going to spread for sure.”

India’s Health Ministry did not respond to phone calls and written requests for comment Monday and last week.

“For there to be another report coming out from India is no surprise at all. Indeed, in a sense, it’s surprising it’s taken so long,” said WHO’s Nunn. This is “yet another alarm call for countries and others engaged in TB control to do their jobs properly.”

In 2003, two Italian women died of  highly resistant tuberculosis and there were 15 cases reported from Iran in 2009. That same year, The Associated Press reported on a case of a Peruvian teenager who was infected at home but diagnosed while visiting Florida. He was successfully treated for a year and a half with experimental high doses of medicines not typically used for TB, costing about $500,000.

Tuberculosis is an age-old scourge that lies dormant in an estimated 1 in 3 people. About 10 percent of those people eventually develop active TB, which kills roughly 2 million a year, according to WHO. Each victim infects an average of 10 to 15 others every year, typically through sneezing or coughing.

 

At least 20 dolphins found dead in Cape Cod area

 

By Dominique Debucquoy-Dodley, CNN

 

January 17, 2012 — Updated 0626 GMT (1426 HKT)

 

 Between 40 and 50 dolphins have been found stranded close to shore near Cape Cod since Thursday.

 

 (CNN) — At least 20 dolphins have died after washing up near several Cape Cod towns, an International Fund for Animal Welfare spokeswoman said Monday.

 

Between 40 and 50 common and Atlantic white-sided dolphins have been found stranded close to the shore since Thursday, and the number will likely rise, said IFAW spokeswoman Kerry Branon. Some animals were released Monday near Provincetown, bringing the total number of animals saved to 19.

 

“It may not sound like a high success rate, but when you consider that 27 were alive when they washed up, I think we’re doing pretty well.” The remaining eight that were stranded alive died.

 

Stranded living animals are given full health assessments, including ultrasounds and hearing tests; dead animals are given CT scans and necropsies, Branon said. Five released dolphins have been equipped with satellite tags on their dorsal fins to track their location and to see if they’re surviving.

 

Despite January-April being “high season” for dolphin stranding near Cape Cod, IFAW experts aren’t exactly sure why so many dolphins are appearing now.

 

One theory is that the animals get caught in currents when they come close to land to feed. Another theory is that, as social animals, if one dolphin is sick or injured, the whole group will stay with that animal. Finally, the topography of Cape Cod may create areas where the dolphins can get stuck.

 

Katie Moore, a Cape Cod dolphin rescue veteran of 15 years, says that this is only the second time she has seen this many dolphins washing ashore.

 

“Sometimes they come up one at a time, other times we see them 10 at a time,” said Moore, manager of IFAW’s rescue team.

 

The six-member rescue team is on-call 24/7 and will continue searching this week.

 

 

 

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