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Bible evangewomanblogspotcomThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Acts 10:44-48

The Holy Spirit Falls on the Gentiles

44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.

—————————————————————————————-

Last week’s post discussed Cornelius relating his divine vision to Peter, explaining why he — a Gentile — sent for him.

Peter, too, had a divine vision revealing that nothing — and, by extension, no one — is unclean.

Peter took heed and, immediately afterward, met Cornelius’s men who had just arrived at the house where he was staying. He went with the men without complaint from Joppa to Caesarea.

The Holy Spirit was working wonders in Peter after that first Pentecost. Acts 2 gives us his first sermon and says:

41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

In Acts 3, Peter healed a lame beggar, who then went on to witness himself. Although Peter and John were arrested at the temple in Jerusalem (Acts 4):

But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.

There were thousands more, but it was not the custom in society to count women and children in those days.

These three posts explain how the Spirit transformed Peter into a great leader of the early church:

John MacArthur on St Peter

John MacArthur on Peter’s leadership qualities

More from John MacArthur on Peter’s leadership journey

Therefore, by the time Peter met Cornelius, the resulting experience was going to be powerful. And, so it was. Last week’s post has Peter’s sermon, which is included in the Lectionary, but, unless the clergyperson preaching about it puts it into context, a lot of the power behind it is lost.

In today’s reading we have Cornelius, a faith-filled Gentile — accompanied by his household and friends — who has just learned more about God and Jesus Christ from Peter.

Peter hadn’t stopped preaching when the Holy Spirit fell upon all assembled — the converts among the Jews from Joppa as well as Cornelius and his fellow Gentiles (verse 44).

Matthew Henry has a good analysis (emphases mine below):

When the Holy Ghost fell upon them–while Peter was preaching. Thus God bore witness to what he said, and accompanied it with a divine power. Thus were the signs of an apostle wrought among them, 2 Corinthians 12:12.

Also:

Though Peter could not give the Holy Ghost, yet the Holy Ghost being given along with the word of Peter, by this it appeared he was sent of God.

Now consider that there were many witnesses in that room — Jew and Gentile.

Henry also tells us that the God follows no prescribed method:

The Holy Ghost fell upon others after they were baptized, for their confirmation; but upon these Gentiles before they were baptized: as Abraham was justified by faith, being yet in uncircumcision, to show that God is not tied to a method, nor confines himself to external signs. The Holy Ghost fell upon those that were neither circumcised nor baptized; for it is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing.

The Jewish converts were ‘amazed’ to see that the Holy Spirit was ‘poured out’ on the Gentiles (verse 45):

Those of the circumcision who believed were astonished–those six that came along with Peter; it surprised them exceedingly, and perhaps gave them some uneasiness, because upon the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost, which they thought had been appropriated to their own nation. Had they understood the scriptures of the Old Testament, which pointed at this, it would not have been such an astonishment to them; but by our mistaken notions of things we create difficulties to ourselves in the methods of divine providence and grace.

John MacArthur tells us:

Well, Jesus was in the business of smashing fences, and this was one that had to go; and so as you come to the 10th chapter of the Book of Acts, the Lord adds to the church Gentiles. The pagans who were despised by the Jews and who, incidentally, despised the Jews, as well, who were thought to be unclean, in whose home Jews would never go, whose food Jews would never eat, and so forth and so on. He includes them into the church, into the one body with the Jews. Now, this is not going to be an easy thing, but our Lord had already designed to build one body. As Ephesians 2 says, “To make one new man, to join together Jew and Gentile. As Ephesians 3 said, “The mystery of the church was Jew and Gentile one in Christ.”

MacArthur says this was not going to be easy, and we will see next week that Peter caught flak for it.

Then the group spoke in tongues and extolled God (verse 46). Henry explores what this means:

They spoke with tongues which they never learned, perhaps the Hebrew, the holy tongue; as the preachers were enabled to speak the vulgar tongues, that they might communicate the doctrine of Christ to the hearers, so, probably, the hearers were immediately taught the sacred tongue, that they might examine the proofs which the preachers produced out of the Old Testament in the original. Or their being enabled to speak with tongues intimated that they were all designed for ministers, and by this first descent of the Spirit upon them were qualified to preach the gospel to others, which they did but now receive themselves. But, observe, when they spoke with tongues, they magnified God, they spoke of Christ and the benefits of redemption, which Peter had been preaching to the glory of God. Thus did they on whom the Holy Ghost first descended, Acts 2:11. Note, Whatever gift we are endued with, we ought to honour God with it, and particularly the gift of speaking, and all the improvements of it.

Then Peter asked if anyone — the Jews present — would deny these Gentiles baptism (verse 47). St Luke, the author of Acts, does not describe their reaction, but I would not be surprised if there wasn’t a moment or two of stunned silence.

Henry analyses Peter’s question:

The argument is conclusive; can we deny the sign to those who have received the thing signified? Are not those on whom God has bestowed the grace of the covenant plainly entitled to the seals of the covenant? Surely those that have received the Spirit as well as we ought to receive baptism as well as we; for it becomes us to follow God’s indications, and to take those into communion with us whom he hath taken into communion with himself. God hath promised to pour his Spirit upon the seed of the faithful, upon their offspring; and who then can forbid water, that they should not be baptized, who have received the promise of the Holy Ghost as well as we? … Thus is there one unusual step of divine grace taken after another to bring the Gentiles into the church. How well is it for us that the grace of a good God is so much more extensive than the charity of some good men!

Peter then commanded his companions from Joppa to baptise the Gentiles (verse 48). By doing so, those men became an active part of welcoming Gentiles into the Church through baptism.

Henry has more:

The apostles received the commission to go and disciple all nations by baptism. But is was to prayer and the ministry of the word that they were to give themselves. And Paul says that he was sent, not to baptize but to preach, which was the more noble and excellent work. The business of baptizing was therefore ordinarily devolved upon the inferior ministers; these acted by the orders of the apostles, who might therefore be said to do it.

Verse 48 also tells us that the Gentiles asked Peter to remain with them for a time. Cornelius, as we saw at the beginning of Acts 10 a few weeks ago, had a devout thirst to know and love God better. His friends and family gathered there with him were sober of spirit and he rightly believed they should share in that experience themselves. Once the Holy Spirit had descended and they were baptised, it follows logically that they wanted Peter to teach and preach to them about the Jesus he knew. It must have been a spirtually enriching period of time for them, one which further deepened their faith.

In closing, I wanted to look deeper into the verb ‘poured’ in verse 45. John MacArthur has a beautiful analysis of living water used in Scripture:

John chapter 7 introduces us to the Spirit of God in a very unique way; and I’m gonna take this as kind of a kickoff point; and then show you how important it is for us to have the Holy Spirit and why I believe, unequivocally with no contradiction, that we absolutely, at the moment of salvation, receive the Spirit.

John 7:37, feast of tabernacles is going on. The…the pouring of the water, symbolizing, of course, God’s sustenance of Israel in the wilderness. People have been saying Isaiah’s words about drinking at the wells of salvation. And, at that moment, when everybody’s looking at water, Jesus stands up in verse 37 and says, “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.” In other words, Jesus takes the whole illustration, the whole deal, and turns it to Himself and takes advantage of this. You know what He’s saying? He’s saying that if you’re thirsty, you can drink. You know that salvation could come at that day to those people if they would turn to Jesus Christ? They could’ve received the water. Remember the water that He gave the woman at the well? He said, “If you believe in Me, I’ll give you water, and you’ll never thirst again.”

And so there was the promise that they could have spiritual water, spiritual refreshment, a spring of pure cleansing water of life inside of them; but He goes a second step, 38, powerful statement. “He that believeth on Me.” Notice, what is the qualification? He that does what? Believeth on Me, no other qualification. “As the Scripture hath said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.”

Now you have a twofold promise. Hang on here. No. 1, you’re gonna receive the water. No. 2, it’s gonna gush out of you. Not a trickle, but a what? Rivers, gushing rivers of water. Two promises. Spiritual refreshment for Me, and a flowing of the water of life that comes out of Me to the world. That’s evangelism, beloved. That’s what He’s talking about. “That the life that is in me by Christ flows out of me to reach others.” That’s the promise; but watch verse 39. Here’s the key.

But this spoke He of the Spirit, whom they that believe on Him should receive.” Future tense, it’s coming. “For the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” Now watch here, your thought here for a moment. This is saying this…Jesus says, “People, you can now believe, and you can drink the water of life. Someday, you will gush with the water of life to the world; but that can’t happen until the Spirit comes in.” You see? Look at it again. “This spoke He of the Spirit, whom they that believe should receive; but He was not yet given.” The principle is this. All who believe will receive the Spirit.

And, the Holy Spirit is a free gift to all who believe that Jesus is Lord and Saviour:

And where is Christ right now? He’s right there where He can be to send the Spirit, and every moment in the man…in the life of a man, that very moment that he believes, wherever that man is in the world, the Spirit of God is dispensed to that man’s heart.

We need the Holy Spirit to guide us in our faith and to witness — as we are called, in our own ways — to the world. Without the Holy Spirit’s presence, we cannot love God, we cannot obey Him. Without the Holy Spirit, we will fall away from our Christian faith — and eternal salvation.

Next time — Acts 11:1-14

Yesterday’s post provided an update on Puerto Rico one week after Hurricane Maria hit.

This post has more news — from Puerto Rico, not the mainland — and will discuss the island’s weak infrastructure.

Latest news

Someone on another site posted a PDF from The San Juan Daily Star dated Thursday, September 28, 2017.

The paper’s articles refute the misinformation that the big American media outlets are reporting. Big media are trying to set up a crisis situation for President Donald Trump, when, in fact, the US government’s response has been nothing short of excellent.

A summary of the articles follows. Emphases mine below.

‘Lengthy Power Restoration Effort Seen in Puerto Rico: US Power Companies’

Damage assessments are still ongoing to determine what human and equipment resources are needed. The Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council (ESCC) is working with the US government and private electricity concerns, including the American Public Power Association (APPA) which represents the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA):

We thank (U.S.) President (Donald) Trump for authorizing 100-percent cost sharing by the federal government for 180 days of emergency work to help begin the process of repairing damaged energy infrastructure,” said APPA President and Chief Executive Sue Kelly …

The rates PREPA charged were not enough for the utility to maintain its infrastructure, in part due to ineffective collection efforts and longstanding mis-management that had left it in a $9 billion hole before declaring bankruptcy in July this year.

PREPA’s equipment was already “degraded and unsafe,” according to a draft fiscal report the company filed in April.

‘FEMA Activating Army to Help Restore Energy Grid’

Alejandro de la Campa, FEMA director for Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, said that:

the federal agency will for the first time activate the Army to assist in the restoration of the electrical energy system on the island following the destruction wrought by Hurricane Maria.

The Army will work with PREPA.

In addition:

He also said FEMA will increase staff and resources for the island.

‘Pentagon to Set Up Local Command Center, Send Hospital Ship’

This is about the anticipated arrival of USNS Comfort and Brigadier General Richard Kim’s establishment of a command center to oversee reconstruction efforts.

Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón said:

I am grateful to the federal executive branch for all the work they continue to do as well as my colleagues in Congress, who have expressed their full support for working for Puerto Rico.”

‘US Mulls Request by Lawmakers to Waive Shipping Limits on PR’

This is about lifting the Jones Act, which would enable non-US vessels to get fuel to Puerto Rico.

As I said yesterday — which this article supports — lifting the Jones Act is unnecessary because the necessary fuel is already in port. It just needs delivery across the island:

Puerto Rico has long railed against the Jones Act, saying it raises the cost of imported basic commodities, such as food, clothing and fuel. But the [Department of Homeland Security] official said that the Defense Department and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have not indicated there is a lack of ships to get food and goods to the island

The real challenges happen to be on the island itself,” the official said, adding that there were plenty of U.S.-flagged barges and tugs available.

‘DACO Chief Urges Around-the-Clock Deliveries for 500 “Operational” Gas Stations’

Michael Pierluisi Roja, the island’s Consumer Affairs (DACO) director, announced that more than 500 filling stations are ‘operational’. That means a) they are ready to receive fuel or b) already received it but ran out.

Roja wants fuel distributors and retailers to get on the ball:

Now, he said, “it is up to the distributors to put get on the ball and respond quickly, responsibly and urgently to the gas stations,” he said. “We have done everything we can to ensure that they have operating conditions. Retailers who have not communicated with wholesalers should do so immediately and in whatever manner is necessary.”

The official acknowledged that there are wholesalers who cannot operate at night due to the lack of electricity at the Yabucoa terminal.

And he also called on gasoline retailers “to allow consumers to fill their gas tanks, so they do not have to return daily to [wait in long lines] in the middle of the crisis.”

‘Federal Agents Now Escorting Some Gasoline Deliveries’

After describing efforts to get fuel deliveries out to various towns, there is notice from Puerto Rico’s Public Affairs and Public Policy Secretary Ramón Rosario Cortés and Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares that it is time for public employees to get back to work:

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló Nevares said Tuesday that “government employees should report to their work stations” or, alternatively, public workers should report to the nearest headquarters of their agency or public corporation. If these are not operational, they should report to the nearest municipal Emergency Operations Center, “where their mayor will inform them where to receive aid.”

Rosario Cortés added that “personnel working in school cafeterias and food stores, school teachers and directors should report to their workstations to help with school repairs.”

Other news

An article on page 4 of the PDF lists all the relief activity to date.

Another says that 86 firefighters from the state of New York have arrived to help.

On page 5, there is an article about Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón’s meetings in Washington with legislators and federal agencies about long-term recovery for Puerto Rico.

The generals involved

Big Media are making a big deal about the ‘delay’ in the appointment of a general to oversee recovery efforts.

However, they are wrong.

Thomas P Bossert, President Trump’s assistant for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, took questions from reporters at the White House Press Briefing on September 28. An excerpt from the transcript follows:

Q I’m not sure if I still understand — why has it taken eight days to get a three-star general on the ground to start organizing this? We know the island situation, et cetera. But why eight days?

MR. BOSSERT: Yeah, well, because it didn’t require a three-star general eight days ago. Let me explain to you how the process works. It will be the best way of explaining the answer.

We have a three-star general in charge of this, and we had one in charge of this out of San Antonio from day minus-eight and day minus-two and all the way through until today. We forward-deployed a one-star general — a brigadier general — to take care of ground force command once we realized the problem of logistics distribution had outstripped the capacity of the affected municipal governments …

the change, move here[,] on day eight was to take that three-star general and to put him there, physically located in the field. I don’t anticipate he’ll stay there long, but he needs to get there, have his eyes on it, and make sure that he’s comfortable with the interaction between his forces and the governor and the municipal forces, because it’s a little bit of a different business plan model in the field, and because it’s unique and it’s an island 1,100 or so miles away from the nearest land in Florida.

And so once he’s satisfied, I think — or would expect that three-star general to recede back into his appropriate command structure. But for now, both he and his one-star subordinate command will be there in charge of ground forces and overall military marshals, and we’ll end up with a lot more people there over the coming days to try to address this really significant problem and significant need.

The rest of Bossert’s Q&A has more details on what has been done in Puerto Rico to date and what lies ahead.

Stars and Stripes has a good article from Monday, September 25, outlining all the military support that Puerto Rico will receive for the foreseeable future. In summary:

WASHINGTON – The Defense Department has dispatched about 2,600 troops to aid Hurricane Maria victims in the U.S. Virgin Islands and in Puerto Rico, where access to power and communications remained severely limited five days after the Category 4 storm struck the U.S. territory.

The military has focused primarily on conducting search and rescue operations, delivering life-sustaining supplies and providing generators and fuel to power critical infrastructure such as water treatment facilities and hospitals, Army Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said Monday …

“We have the capability to do exactly what we’re doing, and we’re going to do all we can for the people of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean in the wake of these disastrous storms,” he said. “This is a long-term effort. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and [the Defense Department] will continue to support them as long as support is needed.”

Elderly electricity grid

Puerto Rico’s electricity grid was in dire straits before Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck.

The Washington Examiner explains that the aforementioned PREPA mismanaged finances and lost a lot of manpower as workers moved to the United States:

PREPA’s power plants are 44 years old on average, Reuters reported, compared to the industry-wide average of 18 years.

Puerto Rico derives most of its power from Venezuelan oil, and PREPA relied on selling bonds to pay for the imported oil it burned at its aging power plants that need billions of dollars worth of repairs.

Sensitive to price shocks in the oil market, PREPA charges the island’s residents high rates, more than any U.S. state but Hawaii, according to the Energy Information Administration.

The power company is also grappling with a manpower shortage. PREPA has lost 30 percent of its employees since 2012 as locals migrate to the mainland to escape the island’s financial woes and stagnant economy.

The entire operation was failing both organizationally, and in the energy generation system and transmission and distribution systems,” said Tom Sanzillo, the director of finance at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, told the Washington Examiner. “They were vulnerable. So the surprise to me is the electricity is on at all in Puerto Rico, with the storm or no storm. It is that serious and has been that serious.”

In May 2017, Puerto Rico entered a process similar to bankruptcy protection in order to restructure $70 billion in debt. Congress appointed a board, PROMESA, to oversee the restructuring process.

Tom Bossert said at yesterday’s press briefing that nothing had been determined yet about Puerto Rico’s dire financial situation, but that the US government would certainly help rebuild not only the electricity grid — but also the island’s water system:

Those are the two concerning elements where they’re going to have to be rebuilt, they’re going to have to be rebuilt under proper management, and they’re going to have to be rebuilt under proper rebuilding codes and standards to make sure that they can withstand a future hurricane, and that we don’t just go back to sticks and wires in the future.

So we’re going to put federal money into this. We should do it wisely and prudently. I’ve said that from this podium here before. President Trump believes in that seriously. I don’t think we’re going to have to address the debt restructuring issue in this next go-around, but if we do, and if Congress wants us to, President Trump is up to that challenge.

Financial mismanagement

In 2016, a Republican congressman, John Fleming of Louisiana, took issue with Puerto Rico’s dire financial situation and said he would vote against PROMESA. It’s a moot point now, but these were his reasons as laid out in the Daily Signal:

Puerto Rico is facing a financial mess. Much of it has been caused by poor governance on the island, but also exacerbated by the heavy hand of the United States government.

No one said it better than Pedro Perluisi, the Democratic Delegate from Puerto Rico to the U.S. House of Representatives, when he spoke at a hearing on the Puerto Rico bankruptcy bill. He said, “Part of this over-spending is definitely the result of mismanagement. I admit it. It’s embarrassing.”

But then he went on to blame Obamacare not spending enough money on Medicaid. Prior to Obamacare, he said that Puerto Rico received $350 million per year. After Obamacare, they are receiving $1.2 billion per year, but conditions are worse. And he seems to think it is because the federal government needs to spend more money.

Earlier that year, Wilbur Ross, who was still restructuring failed companies at the time — he is now Trump’s Secretary of Commerce — said:

Puerto Rico is the US version of Greece.

Yet, going back further to 2015, Breitbart said that comparing Puerto Rico to Greece was unfair to Greece. More Greeks work than do Puerto Ricans. More Puerto Ricans are reliant on government handouts than Greeks.

This is because, because of US law, Puerto Rico has an unsustainably high minimum wage which prohibits entry-level jobs from being created. The only choice is to apply for welfare:

An unsupportably high minimum wage has meant that entry level jobs simply don’t exist in Puerto Rico, USA. Official unemployment is only 12 percent, but that is only because the labor force participation rate is about 43%, as opposed to 63% on the mainland.

Perhaps to make up for this disastrous employment policy, welfare and entitlement payments are kept high. As a result, the incentive to give up public assistance in favor of a job has been substantially reduced for Puerto Rico, USA. Less than half of working age males are employed, 35 percent of the island’s residents are on food stamps, and 45.4 percent of Puerto Rico, USA is in poverty.

Even worse:

Puerto Rico USA is actually worse off than its impoverished neighbor Cuba. Although Puerto Rico’s $103 billion annual GDP is twice the size of Cuba’s, Puerto Rico’s debt of $73 billion is now over three times larger than Cuba’s debt of $23.44 billion.

The article concludes:

A quick look at Puerto Rico USA demonstrates how destructive America’s socialistic labor and tax policies can be to a group of Americans.

Indeed.

Corruption and high crime rate

In January 2014, Fox News had an article about Puerto Rico’s deep corruption and high crime rate.

At that point, 13 people had been murdered over the course of five consecutive days. Four murders took place on one night alone.

Despite it being a US territory, Puerto Rico’s murder rate is more in line with developing countries such as Mexico and the Dominican Republic.

Angelo Falcón, president of the National Institute for Latino Policy, told Fox News:

“The crime rate has been neglected for so long that it looks like the problem is not going to go away anytime soon.”

Falcón added that Puerto Rico has locked in a three-fold predicament when trying to tackle its violent crime rate – an unstable economic situation that limits available resources, a recent shake-up in the island’s police department, and a lack of attention from federal law enforcement to territory’s position as an increasingly important drug transit zone.

In 2013, Obama’s Department of Justice gave Puerto Rico $10 million to clean up police corruption over a 10-year period. I reckon that money’s long gone and the corruption even deeper.

In any event, drug trafficking has ballooned:

Puerto Rico and other parts of the Caribbean are beginning to see a trafficking surge reminiscent of the 1980s heyday of the Colombia-South Florida drug trade.

The article blames the US government for not sending more money. As if that’s going to do anything much. Surely, this is a question of morality and ethics.

On February 13, 2017, a big cocaine distribution network was busted. Insight Crime has the story:

Ten individuals — including several airport officials — have been arrested for trafficking 20 metric tons of cocaine from Puerto Rico to the United States since 1998, a reminder of the importance of this oft-overlooked territory as a drug transshipment point

US and Puerto Rican authorities arrested ten individuals on February 13 in a sting operation against the cocaine trafficking group, reported Hoy Los Ángeles. A previous police operation in November 2016 resulted in the arrest of two other suspects that belonged to the network

The group would contract drug “mules,” or low-level human smugglers, to ensure that their luggage would board the plane unchecked. The US indictment indicates that up to five mules would board a plane at a time, registering two pieces of luggage that each contained between eight and fifteen kilos of cocaine.

The estimated worth of the drugs smuggled between 1998 and 2016 was $100 million.

The article also says:

The increased drug smuggling through Puerto Rico is due to greater security pressure in the Dominican Republic that has led to a shift in trafficking routes, according to the 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). 

A significant portion of the cocaine moving through Puerto Rico is sold to domestic users. According to the DEA’s 2016 annual report, between 70 and 80 percent of the cocaine that arrives on the island is sent to the United States, while the rest is consumed by the local market.

Wow.

Conclusion

Puerto Rico is in a lot of trouble structurally, financially and morally.

Throwing excessive money their way may only exacerbate these problems. There has to be a better way.

Yesterday, I wrote about how wrong the Left, including the media, are about relief efforts by America’s FEMA and military in Puerto Rico.

The media are falling over themselves trying to make Maria Donald Trump’s Katrina.

Here is an update on media misinformation about what is currently happening on the devastated island.

USNS Comfort

Yesterday’s post had an item about the US Navy ship Comfort. Hillary Clinton stuck her oar in on Twitter complaining it hadn’t been sent yet.

Afterwards, the Comfort received permission to sail.

As one will discover below, that had nothing to do with Hillary, but the Washington Post made out as if her tweet persuaded President Donald Trump to send the ship.

This is what WaPo reporter Dan Lamothe tweeted:

In reality, because there wasn’t a Puerto Rican port able to receive the Comfort, she could not start her journey.

Sundance at The Conservative Treehouse explains more about Comfort and preparing her (emphases mine below):

The USNS Comfort is a 900′ (length) x 100′ (width) hospital. It was built by modifying a 1970’s era oil tanker (old hull design – non bulbous bow), and it weighs approximately 67,000 tons. It’s essentially still an old oil tanker in water placement design; meaning it needs a port to receive it on arrival.

Additionally, it takes approximately five days to activate Comfort into service. Fueling, supplying, and the engineering to prepare for ocean passage of a massive vessel is a lengthy process. She also needs personnel to arrive and stage etc. All said, the logistics and engineering takes five days prep time.

Sundance, whose Twitter account is The Last Refuge, rightly took on Dan Lamothe over this misinformation (emphases in the original below):

When CTH challenged the WaPo author, Dan Lamothe, about this factual “spin-up” time, and how Comfort was ordered to prepare PRIOR to Clinton’s tweeting about it, Lamothe admits Clinton didn’t have anything to do with Comfort’s activation.

Here is some of the exchange:

Which received this reply from others reading the thread:

It is sad: WaPo shamelessly peddling such a load of old cobblers (nonsense).

As Sundance explains (emphases mine):

USNS Comfort’s activation was put on hold (“stand down”) because: A) there was no port that survived the storm in a capacity able to receive her; and B) the governor of Puerto Rico requested she not be sent

Puerto Rico is an island. The first job is to get the ports open. Every single aspect of relief and recovery is dependent on getting all ports operational. Nothing matters more.

That is exactly what FEMA, Homeland Security (coast guard), and the U.S. Navy understood even before the hurricane hit the island. All assets were staged to ensure the first job was to get the ports open.

The relief lag, and any supply deficiency, is specifically related to the time it took (and takes) to open the ports.

FEMA

That conveniently brings me to FEMA.

Brock Long, the FEMA administrator, gave a brief interview to Fox News. The reporter challenges him about petrol distribution on the island. He explains all the efforts going on to make that possible. In some places, petrol is available, but Governor Rossello has rightly rationed it to 10 gallons per person. The reporter doesn’t seem to get it, thinking there is no petrol, so why not lift the Jones Act, which was done for Florida after Hurricane Irma. Brock Long tells her that the petrol is there, it just needs to get distributed once roads are clear — and electricity is restored in order to operate the pumps:

Sundance had a good column on this, excerpted below. He points out another issue, which is that drivers have not shown up to transport petrol and basic necessities:

The lifting of the “Jones Act” to allow any flagged ocean carrier to deliver supplies is not needed because the ports are backlogged with ample supplies and fuel while the Puerto Rican government does nothing to transport them.

Neither FEMA, nor the DoD, can be expected to take the place of municipal authorities; yet that is exactly what it appears the Puerto Rican government expects.

FUBAR.

If you want to see proof of this, CBS News correspondent David Begnaud shows full containers just waiting to be unloaded and transported. He also talks about the clear absence of lorries and drivers. No one knows if they cannot get to work or if, as Sundance says, they expect FEMA and the military to transport them. This is worth watching:

Thomas P Bossert, President Trump’s assistant for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, gave this update yesterday:

Puerto Rico’s governor is going to have to see where his men are to help deliver fuel and supplies.

Geraldo Rivera

Fox News reporter Geraldo Rivera has been sent to Puerto Rico to cover news there as well as find his family members.

Part of this video shows him finding his Aunt Ellie. A tree fell through her house. She is unharmed, fortunately, and Geraldo — as he has been known for decades — later helped clear the tree:

He says in the video that families are worried about their loved ones. With the phone masts down, there is no way they can contact them.

Rivera said elsewhere that he is pledging $10 million of his own money to the Maria relief and rebuilding efforts.

Although his video above is good, it should be noted that Geraldo gives a positive version of events when he appears on Fox and Friends and a negative one when he appears later in the day on Shepard Smith’s show.

Two different audiences, two different versions of events.

Looting

Looting started in some areas of Puerto Rico as soon as Maria left the island.

Spare a prayer for this man who manages a supermarket that got looted — and for his boss, the owner.

Don’t think that these are hungry young men. They were very energetic when breaking in — and destroying the whole store, which is now flooded. These young criminals stole alcohol, cigarettes and meat. They broke into cash registers. They broke the shop’s industrial lift. Everything will have to be replaced.

Even the CNN guy had to back off asking whether we shouldn’t have sympathy for these vandals. The manager politely stated that they looted for personal benefit:

While we pray for all of Puerto Rico, please pray especially for this store manager and the store’s owner as well as others whose livelihoods have been seriously harmed or destroyed by looting.

More tomorrow, specifically on the precarious state of Puerto Rico’s infrastructure.

When Hurricane Maria slammed into the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Wednesday, September 30, 2017, the Trump administration already had a relief plan in place.

To find out that the Left — Democrats, the media and their acolytes — are criticising President Donald Trump for doing nothing or not doing enough is maddening.

You’ll see Hillary Clinton’s criticism below. The media are hard at it, too: CNN, PBS, the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Atlantic and many more outlets.

That people believe such rubbish because a) their minds are already made up or b) they are too lazy to search for the truth is equally infuriating.

President Trump was at the United Nations General Assembly last week. Regardless, the appropriate government agencies and departments were keeping him informed of Maria’s path and planned relief efforts.

On September 19, he tweeted:

The day Maria hit, everyone — including Trump — was watching:

I said in my post of September 21 that Puerto Rico’s dilapidated electricity grid collapsed. No one had power. Nor would they have power in the near future. Phone masts were — and continue to be — down, complicating communication.

Much of the island’s infrastructure — including ports and airfields — is ruined, making Maria’s strike catastrophic. This made rescue and relief efforts impossible in the immediate aftermath. It remains difficult today.

On Saturday, September 23, The Conservative Treehouse gave this update:

The U.S. military is the tip of the spear in attempting to get aid and supplies to the residents in coordination with FEMA and emergency officials. CTH had numerous conversations today with teams trying to get as much into the island as possible.

The leadership of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and Expeditionary Strike Group 2, met with key leaders with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Puerto Rico National Guard to plan and coordinate for Hurricane Maria response efforts in Puerto Rico. The Department of Defense (DoD) is supporting FEMA, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort.

The day after the Marines and Navy landed, Hillary Clinton piped up:

That same day, The Conservative Treehouse detailed the efforts made thus far (emphases mine below):

The reality of Clinton’s disconnect is only exceeded by her jawdroppingly ridiculous undertones of division.  Obviously Hillary Clinton has no idea what is going on in Puerto RicoThe U.S. military have been leading FEMA rescue, relief and recovery efforts from the first moment the winds died down

Even before Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico the U.S. military, including the Navy, were mobilized in advanced preparation for what was predictedSEE HERE– …

The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard is working to open ports. There are hundreds of sunken vessels impeding navigation. The Navy and Coast Guard led recon missions to determine clear entry paths (rapid recon) and are RIGHT NOW guiding in relief ships through the waters surrounding the island.

The U.S. Marines are airlifting hundreds of tons of relief supplies via fixed wing and helicopter air missions. The U.S. response includes five warships, helicopters, cargo aircraft, National Guard troops and amphibious units as part of the relief operations …

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are the actual ground force opening the ports of destination and the airports. They reopened the major airport in San Juan to military relief flights on September 22nd and established the air-traffic command center.

The U.S. Coast Guard is dropping supplies and working from their base in Puerto Rico, and simultaneously coordinating with Dutch, British and French ships delivering relief supplies around St. Thomas and St. Croix

Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo Rossello, told PBS on Tuesday, September 26, that he is very satisfied with the response from the United States. President Trump has spoken to him several times and the FEMA director has visited him twice:

Here is the governor himself:

San Juan’s mayor is also satisfied with relief efforts:

This FEMA page is dedicated to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Here are two recent articles from the Department of Defense on their efforts in the Caribbean and Puerto Rico. The DoD also has a good set of pictures showing their work not only in the US Virgin Islands but also in Dominica.

In addition to government agencies, Florida’s governor, Rick Scott — a Republican — has placed the state’s National Guard and Wildlife Commission on standby to fly to Puerto Rico if Rossello formally requests their help.

President Trump will be visiting Puerto Rico and possibly the Virgin Islands on Tuesday, October 3. At his press briefing during the visit of Spain’s president Mariano Rajoy Brey on Tuesday, September 26, he said that he had spoken with Governor Rossello that morning. All federal agencies on Puerto Rico are doing their utmost in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria:

The Conservative Treehouse had an update that day on the US Coast Guard’s work and the tremendous uphill tasks they face in Puerto Rico. Critics should take note of this:

The majority of people who are providing media opinion on Puerto Rico recovery efforts really don’t have any understanding of the scale of the logistics involved when the impact zone is an island.

Hurricane Maria destroyed hundreds of vessels in and around the various PR ports making entry and exit into harbors a maze of submerged vessel and sunken debris avoidance. In addition, the ports’ infrastructure systems (power, utilities, docking equipment, pump stations, fuel depots, etc) were severely impacted, and in many ports 100% wiped out. Buoys, markers, harbor-lights, towers, all gone – completely destroyed.

Puerto Rico is an island, so bringing in relief supplies by cargo ship is the only way to deliver massive tonnage of supplies, heavy equipment and material needed to begin any restoration and recovery effort. Without ports those supplies cannot be offloaded. Especially think about fuel shipments. See the issue?

However, in a stunning feat of skill, ingenuity and determination the harbor entries have been mapped for navigable passage by the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard while simultaneously the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have been working on the land-based side of the port infrastructure

The U.S. Coast Guard has 13 cutters and 10 aircraft working on this mission and are working hand-in-hand with the U.S. Navy. Their ability to open these ports is a remarkable feat of logistics and speaks to the incredible coordination between the Dept. of Defense and FEMA.

That post also has a current update of the status of ports. A few are still closed. Some are open only during daylight hours. Others have restrictions.

Fox News reporter Chad Pergram reported on the dire situation Puerto Ricans are enduring:

Puerto Rico’s National Guard is responding. Their video shows the devastation:

In closing:

Everything that can be done is being done in Puerto Rico.

Yesterday’s post asked whether NFL would come to mean No Fans Left.

I will not rehash the contents except for two items.

First, it is illegal not to stand with hand on heart for the national anthem. That makes President Donald Trump wrong when he says it is permissible to stand with arms locked with the guys next to you.

Here is a citation of the American statute stipulating conduct during the national anthem. It is 36 US Code 301 (emphases mine):

(a)Designation.—
The composition consisting of the words and music known as the Star-Spangled Banner is the national anthem.

(b)Conduct During Playing.—During a rendition of the national anthem—
(1) when the flag is displayed—
(A) individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note;
(B) members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute in the manner provided for individuals in uniform; and
(C) all other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and
(2) when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.
(Pub. L. 105–225, Aug. 12, 1998, 112 Stat. 1263; Pub. L. 110–417, [div. A], title V, § 595, Oct. 14, 2008, 122 Stat. 4475.)

So there. Case closed. Let the police arrest all the miscreants on the field. That would be much more interesting than their stupid ball game.

Secondly, what follows is the full story of why Americans have such profound respect for the national anthem. I encourage everyone to watch it and share it with younger family members. This isn’t taught in school and, even when it is, isn’t done in such a fulsome way. Some of the history was news to me:

And the fourth verse, rarely sung, really points out the importance of the American flag standing after a night of attacks from the British on Fort McHenry (see the 30-second mark):

Nobody understands the protest

Over the past 48 hours, I have read numerous comments online asking for an explanation of the protests since 2016. Slavery? Inequality? Trump?

Hey, players, give it a rest. You’re only alienating your fans. The general public does not understand what is going on:

A Colorado car dealer, Phil Long, who senses what way the wind is blowing, has suspended the Denver Broncos’ Von Miller from its adverts:

Phil Long Dealerships:
We are evaluating the events of the weekend. It is important to state that we haven’t fired Von. We are in the middle of contract renewal and this weekend’s events remind us that sometimes we feel that we best represent ourselves. We support Von and his first amendment rights, we know Von and he’s a good person. He donated a police car to his hometown police dept. All that notwithstanding when we bring in celebrities to represent us we run the risk of being misrepresented

Latest news

In yesterday’s post, I singled out the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Kneelers’ Alejandro Villanueva for doing the right thing.

I was wrong.

Dallas Cowboys

In the Cowboys’ latest game on Monday, September 25, 2017, they tried to please everyone by kneeling before the national anthem was played, then standing with locked arms for the anthem itself. Terrible — and, as mentioned above — illegal.

Apparently, this was to show solidarity with all the other teams in the latest kneeling and arm-locking protest: disapproval of Trump’s criticism of their disrespect of the national anthem.

As someone said at The_Donald:

This is incredibly cringey.

Someone else wrote:

Life long Cowboys fan here. I was sick to my stomach and turned it off. I am completely done. I can’t believe it. I really thought they were going to pull through. No more NFL for me. I’m in shock.

Everybody had hopes the Cowboys would not fall for this. Only a few days ago, owner Jerry Jones supported standing for the national anthem and:

urged the team’s Leadership Council to stay true to that long-standing practice.

Tom Landry must be rolling in his grave.

Pittsburgh Kneelers

On Sunday, the only Pittsburgh Steeler to go out and salute the flag was Bronze Medal recipient Alejandro Villanueva. I wisely did not show his picture which was all over the Twittersphere.

On Monday, the retired US Army Ranger apologised for doing the right thing, saying he made a mistake and is ’embarrassed’ every time he sees that photo of him showing up, standing and saluting for the national anthem. The rest of his team were in the locker room.

I’m embarrassed for him. Why could he not stand up to his coach, his team-mates and the NFL?

It’s not as if these guys are being paid peanuts and he needs the job.

The public looks on in confusion

Most NFL ticket holders have to fit the cost of admission, team regalia, car parking, refreshment and so on into their annual family budgets.

Most NFL ticket holders are on average incomes.

On the other hand, the players they are going to see are very wealthy men:

Also think of the hundreds of millions of additional dollars in sponsorship contracts.

Oppressed? My foot!

NFL receives taxpayers’ money

The NFL is a non-profit organisation that relies heavily on taxpayer subsidy.

Mic.com has an excellent article (thanks, Sundance) that explains how this happened:

the legislation wasn’t a big deal 47 years ago. In fact, the NFL had already been classified as a non-profit organization as early as 1942. It’s just that that status only became codified in 1966.

These days:

Litigator Andrew Delaney has alleged that the NFL uses its non-profit status to launder money. As a trade association that promotes the interests of its 32 for-profit franchises, the NFL sells lucrative licenses for such things as apparel and television contracts through for-profit business such as NFL Enterprises, LLC. The individually-owned franchises receive compensation and, in turn, make annual “dues and assessments” to the NFL, all of which is tax-deductible. The money just goes around in a circle.

Such practices have led Delaney to call the NFL a “glorified tax shelter.” Gregg Easterbrook argues in The Atlantic that the decision to add professional football leagues under Section 501(c)(6) “has saved the NFL uncounted millions in tax obligations, which means that ordinary people must pay higher taxes, public spending must decline, or the national debt must increase to make up for the shortfall.”

Television contracts are also lucrative. Stadia are involuntarily publicly funded:

More important to the NFL business strategy, however, is the big-time television contracts. At the time Public Law 89-800 granted the NFL a monopoly on its broadcasting rights, cable television did not begin to approach the immense revenue it generates today. ESPN and the NFL Network did not exist; it was regional channels that were important. Thus, in 1966 the NFL received antitrust-exempt media rights with little to no opposition. Now those rights are worth billions of dollars annually.

What makes these contracts so profitable, however, is the relatively low overhead costs. Thanks to John Q. Taxpayer, team owners receive the lion’s share of those contracts while only making a minimal contribution, if any, to the stadium the game is being played in.

Thus, the dirty secret behind why professional football is so profitable is because most stadiums are publicly funded. Teams pay a modest rent to perform in their stadiums, but they retain the exclusive right to air those games on televisions. Those rights are then pooled among the 32 teams and sold to the highest bidder.

That I did not know, nor this:

As the ink dries on the NFL’s highly-lucrative broadcasting contracts, states facing major budget cuts continue to throw taxpayer money at NFL teams. Annually, “NFL stadium subsidies and tax favors add up to perhaps $1 billion.” In addition to these taxpayer contributions, “many cities, counties, and states also pay the stadiums’ ongoing costs, by providing power, sewer services, other infrastructure, and stadium improvements.” Essentially, franchise owners are having their product bankrolled by the public.

The article offers these solutions:

In order for there to be a meaningful change, two changes need to be made. First, Section 501(c)(6) is amended to no longer include the “professional football leagues” language. Until the NFL is more transparent with its finances, it does not deserve its tax-exempt benefits from being a non-profit organization.

Second, Congress must enact legislation prohibiting the privatization of television images performed in publicly funded stadiums. Only with the threat of losing their television contracts worth several billion dollars will the NFL be inclined to privately finance their own stadiums. Such a drastic measure would prevent the public from being gouged for the construction and maintenance of stadiums that serve as the playground for the uber rich.

Fortunately, a Republican in Louisiana is stepping up and speaking out:

Here is an excerpt from The Advocate‘s article:

Louisiana State Rep. Kenny Havard, R-St. Francisville, said Monday morning that he wants to cut millions in state tax dollars, exemptions and credits allocated to the New Orleans Saints, the NFL and any of those groups’ associated facilities that receive funding …

Havard’s statement didn’t specify the amount of state money that he proposed be diverted from the Saints the NFL. According to a 2015 Forbes story, Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson was “set to rake in an estimated $392 million from state subsidies through 2025.

The report said during the Mercedes-Benz Superdome lease “the state will pay Benson at least $198 million in increased revenue from the Superdome, $142 million in rental payments on property Benson owns, $10 million in bonuses for bringing the Super Bowl to New Orleans and $2.6 million in tax breaks. Benson will get another $40 million from private rent payments to a tower he bought as part of the deal.”

Havard rightly says:

It is time the taxpayers quit subsidizing protest on big boy playgrounds. I believe in the right to protest but, not at a taxpayer subsidized sporting event. Do it on your own time. There are plenty of disabled children, elderly and veterans in this state that would appreciate the money.

Why Trump is so incensed

I think President Trump is angry because the NFL receives taxpayer money to promote the military.

Townhall has a good article on the taxpayer-funded military-NFL programme that started under Obama. I had no idea this was going on:

In 2009, Barack Obama’s Department of Defense began paying hundreds of thousands towards teams in a marketing strategy designed to show support for the troops and increase recruitments. The NFL then required all players and personnel to be on the sidelines during the national anthem, in exchange for taxpayers[‘] dollars. Prior, the national anthem was played in the stadium but players had the option of staying in the locker room before heading out to the field. 

Furthermore, teams that showed “Veteran’s Salutes” during games were paid upwards of $5.1 million dollars

Stop the racket!

You know President Trump is ready for kick-off.

No wonder the NFL’s up in arms. They’re afraid he’s going to stop that gravy train. I hope he does.

I have many, many more links on the NFL and hope to write about them if I have time.

Nearly a year ago I posted ‘American flag desecrated — SAD!’

It showed an elderly man picking up an American flag lying on the sidelines during a high school football game. For my readers who are not American, Old Glory must never touch the ground. That used to be taught in school. No longer, it would seem.

My post said in part:

Their coach and the school should talk about the importance of the flag at a mandatory hour-long class assembly.

I realise this desecration is being done because of a certain trendy, yet ignorant, professional football player whose name will never appear on my site. Why anyone gave him the oxygen of publicity I will never know.

Said football player could not find a team to sign him for the 2017-2018 season. Good. Unfortunately, he is sitting pretty. I heard one report that he is already worth over $200m.

Also sad is that his legacy of disrespect for the national anthem has continued into the current NFL (National Football League) season. The only two teams who have told their players to stand for the national anthem are the Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bears. The Cowboys issued a directive several months ago. The Bears did so just before last weekend’s game.

I’m not an American football fan. I personally know what dimwits some of the college players were in the 1970s — race immaterial, because many were white.

I would like to see today’s guys — college and professional — play in Rugby Union or Rugby League. Those bumper stickers I used to see in the 1980s about having leather attributes to play the game are 100% correct. Rugby players are also consummate gentlemen.

President Donald Trump is sick and tired of these political, anti-American gestures. He said so on Thursday, September 21 at a political rally in Alabama in advance of a special senatorial election there.

You can see a clip of Trump in Judge Jeanine Pirro’s opening statement for her Fox News show which aired at the weekend. She also refers to the USA Today article which details the criminal offences that NFL players have committed. (Here is one such example — and that player was reinstated!) The convictions and police records amongst NFL players is disproportionate to that of the United States as a whole:

Yes, players claim that kneeling on one knee is a legitimate protest against notional American oppression of minorities. And, now, nearly every team is getting in on the act — including, ironically enough, Bob Kraft’s New England Patriots. (They won the Super Bowl earlier this year.) Patriots, my eye. This was Trump’s response to the press:

That’s right. Trump is not going to tell his good friend Kraft or anyone else what to do or think — however, they will have to accept the consequences of their actions. Trump will sit back and watch.

Now back to the team protests. This isn’t the 1960s. There is no reason to legitimately protest against the United States for discrimination. All of it, starting with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, has been gradually legislated out of existence over the past 50+ years. As for police brutality, minorities are many times more likely to be shot and/or killed by other minorities — civilians.

Here is an example of the NFL’s idiocy, aptly explained yesterday at The Conservative Treehouse:

The Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens are in England today for a game in London.  When the U.S. National Anthem was played both teams disrespected the USA and yet stood up for the U.K National Anthem ‘God Save The Queen’.   Think about that.

This is what happened:

Here’s more from The Conservative Treehouse:

The NFL, writ large, is nuts.  They’ve lost their minds. The NFL players, managers, league officials and owners, along with downstream sport punditry and networks, obviously think virtue signaling their collective unity plays well -mostly in their echo-chamber because of the support from left-wing media- but outside their bubble they are destroying their own business model.  Watch what happens.

Yep. And the NBA (basketball) and MLB (baseball) are starting to do it, too.

This man explains the idiocy of disrespecting the national anthem. Ticket sales will plummet. (Not to mention car park revenues!) Political activists don’t attend sports events, everyday patriotic Americans do:

Alex Jones also had a good commentary, discussing how the NFL owners have taken against the American president. That’s a big mistake. Jones also points out how the American symbols that teams used to put on uniforms or branding have pretty much disappeared over the years. He also talked about the game held in London:

Most importantly, Jones mentioned an excellent video about The Star-Spangled Banner, which Francis Scott Key wrote. I did not know the full history as shown below.

The British fired at Fort McHenry relentlessly in one battle, yet, the next day, even though it had holes in it, the American flag still stood. Both sides thought it was miraculous. They had never seen such a thing before. And, Francis Scott Key was actively involved throughout. All Americans should see this and share it with their children:

The fourth verse, in particular, reflects the awe at seeing the flag still standing and what that meant for the young republic (see at 30-second mark):

With regard to the protests, fans began turning off NFL last season when all this stupidity started. It doesn’t help when a player spits on a fan, either. As MSNBC’s Morning Joe‘s Joe Scarborough — a Trump loather — says:

This is because sport is entertainment, not a political forum. People attend sporting events for a break from the dismal reality of life, including politics.

Yet, the NFL owners and managers are angry with Trump. Trump, they say, should keep his mouth shut. But the NFL started it all by protesting, right?

Former NFL fans and ticket holders burnt team shirts and season tickets at the weekend. Other American fans are cancelling certain cable subscriptions whilst more will boycott NFL sponsors:

This is a good move, too:

I also enjoyed this:

Ironically, although most teams refused to stand for the national anthem — including the Pittsburgh Steelers, excepting Alejandro Villanueva, the veteran who saw three tours in Afghanistan — Sunday, September 24 was Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s (sic) Day.

Since 1936, the last Sunday in September has been Gold Star Mother’s Day. On Saturday, September 23, the president expanded this to include families.

Fox News reported on all the errant teams on Sunday and included Trump’s reaction, including the following tweet:

The display marked a tumultuous weekend between the NFL and Trump, who called the players kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner” disrespectful. Trump took note of the incidents at the start of the games on Sunday.

He also tweeted:

Contrary to what some on social media are saying — one example — there is no NFL rule on players’ conduct during the national anthem or when the flag is present. Atlanta’s NBC affiliate has also checked the rule book (as have I). Whilst there are rules about players’ physical appearance and attire — and making or gesturing statements — there is nothing about the national anthem.

Now, one could argue about gestures and statements. Remember that Tim Tebow was censured for dropping one knee in thanks for making a touchdown. Also recall last year that players who war 9-11 ‘Never Forget’ footwear on the field were similarly censured. Many think the same judgement should be applied to this current lot of players.

To make a case, here is a citation of the American statute stipulating conduct during the national anthem. It is 36 US Code 301 (emphases mine):

(a)Designation.—
The composition consisting of the words and music known as the Star-Spangled Banner is the national anthem.

(b)Conduct During Playing.—During a rendition of the national anthem—
(1) when the flag is displayed—
(A) individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note;
(B) members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute in the manner provided for individuals in uniform; and
(C) all other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and
(2) when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.
(Pub. L. 105–225, Aug. 12, 1998, 112 Stat. 1263; Pub. L. 110–417, [div. A], title V, § 595, Oct. 14, 2008, 122 Stat. 4475.)

So there. Case closed.

There is a military element to this, too.

Veterans, rightly, are speaking out against these NFL clowns. Here is a Benghazi survivor, Kris Paronto:

I will have more on this tomorrow:

Meanwhile, I’m contemplating the real possibility that NFL will come to mean No Fans Left. Maybe the Pittsburgh Steelers will be known as the Pittsburgh Kneelers, too. Poetic justice.

John F MacArthurJohn MacArthur has a new book, The Truth War, which he is adapting for a series of blog posts on his GTY — Grace To You — site.

On September 18, 2017, he wrote ‘Modernity to Postmodernity: From Bad to Worse’. It is a good summation of how we got to where we are with our 21st century thinking. Excerpts follow, emphases mine:

Postmodernism in general is marked by a tendency to dismiss the possibility of any sure and settled knowledge of the truth … Objectivity is an illusion. Nothing is certain, and the thoughtful person will never speak with too much conviction about anything. Strong convictions about any point of truth are judged supremely arrogant and hopelessly naive. Everyone is entitled to his own truth.

Postmodernism therefore has no positive agenda to assert anything as true or good. Perhaps you have noticed that only the most heinous crimes are still seen as evil. (Actually, there are many today who are prepared to dispute whether anything is “evil,” so such language is fast disappearing from public discourse.) That is because the notion of evil itself does not fit in the postmodern scheme of things. If we can’t really know anything for certain, how can we judge anything evil?

Therefore postmodernism’s one goal and singular activity is the systematic deconstruction of every other truth claim. The chief tools being employed to accomplish this are relativism, subjectivism, the denial of every dogma, the dissection and annihilation of every clear definition, the relentless questioning of every axiom, the undue exaltation of mystery and paradox, the deliberate exaggeration of every ambiguity, and above all the cultivation of uncertainty about everything.

If you were to challenge me to boil down postmodern thought into its pure essence and identify the gist of it in one single, simple, central characteristic, I would say it is the rejection of every expression of certainty. In the postmodern perspective, certainty is regarded as inherently arrogant, elitist, intolerant, oppressive—and therefore always wrong.

Postmodernism has resulted in a widespread rejection of truth and the enshrinement of skepticism. Postmodernists despise truth claims. They also spurn every attempt to construct a coherent worldview, labeling all comprehensive ideologies and belief systems “metanarratives,” or grand stories. Such “stories,” they say, can’t possibly do justice to everyone’s individual perspective, and therefore they are always inadequate.

Postmodernism’s preference for subjectivity over objectivity makes it inherently relativistic … Instead, truth, if acknowledged at all, becomes something infinitely pliable and ultimately unknowable in any objective sense.

Postmodernism therefore signals a major triumph for relativismthe view that truth is not fixed and objective, but something individually determined by each person’s unique, subjective perception. All this is ultimately a vain attempt to try to eliminate morality and guilt from human life.

And as we’ll see next time, eliminating rational thought is key to those objectives.

It’s a funny thing, postmodernism. A postmodernist will deny Christianity as being subjective or irrational. Yet, that same person will say that it is established science that diet soft drinks are bad for everyone and that climate change science is settled.

Postmodernists pick and choose their ‘truths’, generally alighting firmly on something that needs more research, the way a bluebottle eagerly lands on decaying rubbish to lay its eggs.

MacArthur’s next essay is called ‘Rationality Without the Rationalism’. We all know how atheists pride themselves on being rational, whereas, in their eyes, the Christian is irrational. Similarly, an increasing number of Christians eschew the study of philosophy, which they consider harmful because there is no Scripture involved.

However, MacArthur says:

Rationality (the right use of sanctified reason through sound logic) is never condemned in Scripture. Faith is not irrational. Authentic biblical truth demands that we employ logic and clear, sensible thinking. Truth can always be analyzed and examined and compared under the bright light of other truth, and it does not melt into absurdity. Truth by definition is never self-contradictory or nonsensical. And contrary to popular thinking, it is not rational to insist that coherence is a necessary quality of all truth. Christ is truth incarnate, and He cannot deny himself (2 Timothy 2:13). Self-denying truth is an absolute contradiction in terms. “No lie is of the truth” (1 John 2:21).

Nor is logic a uniquely “Greek” category that is somehow hostile to the Hebrew context of Scripture. (That is a common myth that is often set forth in support of postmodernism’s flirtation with irrationality.) Scripture frequently employs logical devices, such as antithesis, if-then arguments, syllogisms, and propositions. These are all standard logical forms, and Scripture is full of them—Paul’s long string of deductive arguments in 1 Corinthians 15:12–19 being a great example.

MacArthur points out that what postmodernists object to about Holy Scripture and Christianity are propositional statements which are either true or false, with no middle ground:

The reason behind postmodernism’s contempt for propositional truth is not difficult to understand. A proposition is an idea framed as a logical statement that affirms or denies something, and it is expressed in such a way that it must be either true or false. There is no third option between true and false. (This is the “excluded middle” in logic.) The whole point of a proposition is to boil a truth-statement down to such pristine clarity that it must be either affirmed or denied. In other words, propositions are the simplest expressions of truth value used to express the substance of what we believe. Postmodernism, frankly, cannot endure that kind of stark clarity.

In reality, however, postmodernism’s rejection of the propositional form turns out to be totally untenable. It is impossible to discuss truth at all—or even tell a story—without resorting to the use of propositions. Until fairly recently, the validity and necessity of expressing truth in propositional form was considered self-evident by virtually everyone who ever studied logic, semantics, philosophy, or theology. Ironically, to make any cogent argument against the use of propositions, a person would have to employ propositional statements! So every argument against propositions is instantly self-defeating.

That is no doubt why so many established denominations are moving away from centuries-old dogma and doctrine. Whereas the ancient Church thinkers and, later, the Reformers repeated the same biblical truths, these have now become ‘offensive’ to many Christians, hence, the movement towards ‘all are saved’ and ‘Jesus loves you’. Yes, and no. Mankind must submit to God’s will in order to be saved. All mankind seems to do these days is to submit to addiction (including psychotropes) and/or depravity.

Although MacArthur acknowledges that there is more to Christianity than adopting a set of beliefs, we cannot claim to have our hearts and heads allied with the Lord unless we accept certain truths — which are propositional:

While it is quite true that believing the truth entails more than the assent of the human intellect to certain propositions, it is equally true that authentic faith never involves anything less. To reject the propositional content of the gospel is to forfeit saving faith, period.

Postmodernists are uncomfortable with propositions for an obvious reason: They don’t like the clarity and inflexibility required to deal with truth in propositional form. A proposition is the simplest form of any truth claim, and postmodernism’s fundamental starting point is its contempt for all truth claims. The “fuzzy logic” of ideas told in “story” form sounds so much more elastic—even though it really is not. Propositions are necessary building blocks for every means of conveying truth—including stories.

But the attack on propositional expressions of truth is the natural and necessary outworking of postmodernism’s general distrust of logic, distaste for certainty, and dislike for clarity. To maintain the ambiguity and pliability of “truth” necessary for the postmodern perspective, clear and definitive propositions must be discounted as a means of expressing truth. Propositions force us to face facts and either affirm or deny them, and that kind of clarity simply does not play well in a postmodern culture.

Hence the accusations of notional Christian ‘hate’ towards others. Fellow Christians accuse each other of that, too. We see it in the controversy over same-sex marriage in church, the Anglican synod being one example. Those who oppose it were shouted down as being haters or reactionaries. No, they are simply being true to Scripture. It also doesn’t mean they don’t want persons of same-sex persuasion banned from church. What they object to is the church performing misplaced wedding ceremonies.

It seems to me, from what I have seen, that postmodernism has produced a lot of unhappy people. Never before are there so many depressed, angry and violent men, women and children. They react negatively at the drop of a hat — over anything that even politely contradicts their little, individual worldview.

That includes churchgoers.

Clergy aren’t helping the situation by turning sermons into ‘addresses’ and making what should be worship of God into therapy for humankind.

I just reread a recent church bulletin I received. It mentions a new programme on the Bible which will be conducted in ‘a non-confrontational atmosphere’. It is sure to be steeped in postmodernist relativism.

When Christians, through the aid of prayer, open their hearts and minds to the truth of Scripture — all of which condemns man’s base, sinful nature — and see a good explanation of it, they will come to understand the unchanging truth of Jesus Christ and reject postmodernist thought.

That time cannot come too soon.

Bible ourhomewithgodcomThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Acts 10:30-33

30 And Cornelius said, “Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour,[a] and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. 32 Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.’ 33 So I sent for you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.”

———————————————————————————————–

Last week’s post pointed out how important it was for Peter to follow the divine vision he was given and go with Cornelius’s men — Gentiles — to the Roman centurion’s home in Caesarea. This was the fulfilment of God’s plan to open the Church to Gentiles. Christ was no longer exclusively for the Jews and those who maintained those traditions (Samaritans).

We left off last week where Peter, accompanied by Jewish converts from Joppa, arrived with Cornelius’s men in Caesarea. Peter asked Cornelius why he was summoned.

Cornelius related the vision he received (verses 30-32). I wrote about that vision a few weeks ago. The only wording difference is an updated version from Cornelius: ‘your prayer has been heard’ (verse 31).

He said that because now Peter was in front of him. Recall that when the angel appeared to Cornelius, he said (Acts 10:4): ‘Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God’.

Matthew Henry offers insight as to how and where Cornelius might have prayed at home that afternoon (emphases mine below):

He was at the ninth hour praying in his house, not in the synagogue, but at home. I will that men pray wherever they dwell. His praying in his house intimates that it was not a secret prayer in his closet, but in a more public room of his house, with his family about him; and perhaps after prayer he retired, and had this vision. Observe, At the ninth hour of the day, three of the clock in the afternoon, most people were travelling or trading, working in the fields, visiting their friends, taking their pleasure, or taking a nap after dinner; yet then Cornelius was at his devotions, which shows how much he made religion his business; and then it was that he had this message from heaven. Those that would hear comfortably from God must be much in speaking to him.

Henry also has this to say about the angel’s appearance:

He describes the messenger that brought him this message from heaven: There stood a man before me in bright clothing, as Christ’s was when he was transfigured, and that of the two angels who appeared at Christ’s resurrection (Luke 24:4), and at his ascension (Acts 1:10), showing their relation to the world of light. [3.] He repeats the message that was sent to him (Acts 10:31,32), just as we had it, Acts 10:4-6.

As for Cornelius saying that his prayer was heard:

We are not told what his prayer was; but if this message was an answer to it, and it should seem it was, we may suppose that finding the deficiency of natural light, and that it left him at a loss how to obtain the pardon of his sin and the favour of God, he prayed that God would make some further discoveries of himself and of the way of salvation to him. “Well,” saith the angel, “send for Peter, and he shall give thee such a discovery.”

Cornelius went on to acknowledge his appreciation of Peter’s presence in his house and said that all there gathered in the presence of God awaited the Apostle’s words as the Lord commanded (verse 33). That demonstrates Cornelius’s faith and belief. The others around him would have been family members and trusted friends.

Henry has a beautiful analysis of the centurion’s words:

Observe, [1.] Their religious attendance upon the word: “We are all here present before God; we are here in a religious manner, are here as worshippers” (they thus compose themselves into a serious solemn frame of spirit): “therefore, because thou art come to us by such a warrant, on such an errand, because we have such a price in our hand as we never had before and perhaps may never have again, we are ready now at this time of worship, here in this place of worship” (though it was in a private house): “we are present, paresmen–we are at the business, and are ready to come at a call.” If we would have God’s special presence at an ordinance, we must be there with a special presence, an ordinance presence: Here I am. “We are all present, all that were invited; we, and all that belong to us; we, and all that is within us.” The whole of the man must be present; not the body here, and the heart, with the fool’s eyes, in the ends of the earth. But that which makes it indeed a religious attendance is, We are present before God. In holy ordinances we present ourselves unto the Lord, and we must be as before him, as those that see his eye upon us.

He then breaks down Cornelius’s request of Peter to speak as the Lord commanded:

Observe, First, Peter was there to preach all things that were commanded him of God; for, as he had an ample commission to preach the gospel, so he had full instructions what to preach. Secondly, They were ready to hear, not whatever he pleased to say, but what he was commanded of God to say. The truths of Christ were not communicated to the apostles to be published or stifled as they thought fit, but entrusted with them to be published to the world. “We are ready to hear all, to come at the beginning of the service and stay to the end, and be attentive all the while, else how can we hear all? We are desirous to hear all that thou art commissioned to preach, though it be ever so displeasing to flesh and blood, and ever so contrary to our former notions or present secular interests. We are ready to hear all, and therefore let nothing be kept back that is profitable for us.”

What a moment that must have been for everyone there.

John MacArthur has this take on salvation, submission and Peter’s reaction to what Cornelius said:

A man’s salvation is no accident. God orders the whole sequence, but men’s submissive will must move in. Where do you see the submission of Cornelius? In the word immediately. His will was ready. There are the first two things in salvation. Sovereign call and submissive will. Submissive will. You know what I love about that verse 33? He says, “We’re here present to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.” Cornelius says, “Peter, give us the whole shot. We want it all.” Boy, have you ever had an audience like that? Man, what evangelism. I mean he’s so used to fighting it in Jerusalem. Can you imagine all those open hearts. It must’ve taken him for a moment.

What do we see then this morning? We see how God works in salvation on the one hand, but demands submission in the will of a man.

And that theme of a submissive will to the sovereign call is one that runs through the entire set of New Testament letters, whether from Peter, Paul or John.

Peter spoke. This next reading is in the Lectionary at Epiphany (verses 34-38) and, more fully, at Easter, when all of the following is read. Peter’s message remained consistent with what he preached immediately after receiving the Holy Spirit at the first Pentecost (Acts 2), although he tailored it for a Gentile audience by omitting the Old Testament prophecies in detail:

34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37 you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

The account of Cornelius and his household concludes next week.

Next time — Acts 10:44-48

An 11-year-old boy had his dream fulfilled at the White House on Friday, September 15, 2017.

Shortly before his birthday, Frank wrote to President Donald Trump:

The lad’s penmanship needs work. Another thing is the crossed out signature. Why couldn’t his mother or father print out a fresh copy of the letter for him to sign? But those are small quibbles about a heart-warming story.

On Wednesday, September 13, press secretary Sarah Sanders announced that Frank would be visiting the White House:

I’d like to announce that Frank from Falls Church, Virginia, whose letter I read last month offering his services to mow the White House lawn, will be here on Friday. He’ll work with the grounds-keeping crew here at the White House and will help cut the grass in the Rose Garden.

The President is committed to keeping the American Dream alive for kids like Frank, and we’re all looking forward to having him here.

This was the scene last Friday:

Lefties went crazy, accusing the White House of using child labour. On Sanders’s tweet thread, one person said that Frank’s mowing the lawn was much better than what another little boy was doing. (How true. I pray that little boy is safe. I cannot imagine a parent consenting to that.)

Someone on The_Donald started a thread with this title:

Liberals think 11-year-olds are too young to volunteer to mow a lawn, but are mature enough to undergo sex-change treatment.

Yes! That said, I do wish people would stop calling lefties ‘liberals’. It legitimises them. If anything, they are the most illiberal people alive.

The_Donald’s thread has amusing mock CNN and PBS headlines for the story. Those posting to the thread recalled mowing the lawn as children. So do I. There were also enterprising pre-teens who would shovel people’s drives after a snowstorm for a small fee. That’s all changed. I understand from several Americans that boys haven’t done that for years.

Here are a few of the comments.

This one:

My cousin used to mow lawns for extra cash in high school.. then after high school he was like, “school is for losers” and just mowed lawns full time.. he now runs a lawn care business that employs dozens of people and he’s 25. wew.

The reply:

Friends[‘] kid did same thing, began at 10, hired his first crew at 14 – was worth a million before he was 21.

And this one:

If the same kid wanted to get pumped full of sex hormones, that’s progressive. But apparently he’s too young to choose to operate a push mower? I don’t get it.

The reply:

You “don’t get it” because you have a fully functioning brain… 🙂

In case you think I’m being hard on the Left, recall that Obama invited Clock Boy to the White House in 2015. The New York Times reported:

Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year-old Texas boy who became a cause célèbre after he was detained and handcuffed for taking a homemade clock to school, visited the White House on Monday for its second astronomy night.

After Ahmed’s detention on Sept. 14, President Obama invited him to bring his clock to the White House. “Cool clock, Ahmed,” Mr. Obama said on Twitter, adding: “We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.”

As the Daily Wire explains, Clock Boy is somewhat dubious. After going to the White House, he and his family moved to Qatar. Then they returned to Texas. In May 2017, CBS News reported:

A federal judge has dismissed a discrimination lawsuit brought by the family a Muslim student who was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school that officials believed to be a bomb, saying the student’s attorneys failed to prove he was treated differently based on his race or religion.

Now he’s back in Qatar in secondary school. But, I digress.

Frank is a very different character. In fact, he wants to be a Navy SEAL when he grows up.

For now, though, he just wants to do his work well. In fact, he was concentrating so hard on mowing the Rose Garden lawn that he did not even notice President Trump approach him:

Frank’s nickname is FX (Francis Xavier?). Here’s the White House video. Frank’s father accompanied him:

The Daily Mail has a charming summary of Frank and his day:

The_Donald has another thread about Frank, sorry, FX. I particularly enjoyed the following exchange (and have substituted A and B for the posters’ names):

A: Loved watching this kid today. Lines weren’t perfect. That lawn mower weighs more than he does…then the freaking PRESIDENT of the UNITED STATES walks up to him and he is like “sorry, got a job to do sir” and just keeps mowing.

Some presidents would have been annoyed to be ignored like that. Trump was beaming with pride. It’s that kind of work ethic that he absolutely loves. Which is why he’d rather rub shoulders with construction workers and cab drivers and bricklayers than the putzes he usually has to deal with to keep his brand afloat in the past.

I’m telling you, he was just admiring this kid for his focus on the job. This is a good kid. He may never be rich or famous or any of those things, but he will always have a job because he is willing to work and commit to the work.

It’s Americans like this that built this country. Not the snobs that run it.

B: Best internship ever!

Although if Trump had pulled a $100 from his wallet, given it to him, and ruffled Frank’s hair, it would have been totally awesome.

A: Frank would have given it back I think. Kid is on a mission.

After Frank helped make lawns great again …

… he got a great reward …

… and was the subject of at least one news show that night:

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Sarah Sanders’s father, came up with a great suggestion:

Along with millions of Americans, I wish Frank ‘FX’ Giaccio a lifetime of happiness and success. His parents are doing a great job of raising an all-American boy. I wish the world had more people like them.

What a month of disasters: Hurricane Harvey, Mexico earthquake (8.1), Hurricane Irma, Mexico earthquake (7.1) and now Hurricane Maria.

Maria hit St Croix and Puerto Rico on Wednesday, September 20, 2017, one day after the second earthquake took place.

Summary

Bob Henson of Weather Underground posted ‘Maria Slams St. Croix, Rips Across Puerto Rico’ early Wednesday morning.

Maria hit St Croix in the early morning hours (emphases mine below):

Maria raked the U.S. Virgin Island of St. Croix (population 50,000) with its outer eyewall on the strong (right front) side of the eye, between about 1 – 3 am EDT Wednesday morning, but the island missed seeing the Category 5 winds of the inner eyewall, which remained just offshore to the south. The highest winds officially observed on the island were at Cotton Valley RAWS, located on the east end of St. Croix: sustained at 99 mph, gusting to 136 mph, at 2:13 am EDT. A WeatherFlow station at Sandy Point, on the island’s southwest tip, observed sustained winds of 100-104 mph, gusting to 137 mph. Even stronger winds likely occurred somewhere across the island’s west end, but we don’t know how strong, since the wind measuring equipment at the St. Croix airport and the Lime Tree Bay Buoy failed.

According to the Quicklook page at NOAA’s Tides and Currents, Christiansted Harbor on the north side of St. Croix observed a storm surge of two feet. The pressure at a personal weather station on the southwest tip of St. Croix fell to 954 mb at 1:48 am, when the eye made its closest pass to the island.

Maria roared on to Puerto Rico, arriving a few hours later:

Ferocious Hurricane Maria made landfall around 6:15 am EDT Wednesday near Yabucoa in far southeast Puerto Rico as a top-end Category 4 storm, with peak sustained winds estimated at 155 mph

Maria did not hit Puerto Rico as a Category 5 hurricane, thanks to an eyewall replacement cycle (ERC) that began on Tuesday night. The storm’s “pinhole” eye, less than 10 miles wide, was supplemented by an outer eyewall that contracted around the smaller one. The process helped lead to the slight weakening of Maria’s top winds, but it also likely broadened its core of winds topping 100 mph.

Dr Jeff Masters provided an update, ‘Maria Back Over Water After Devastating Hit to Puerto Rico’. Excerpts follow:

After making landfall in southeast Puerto Rico near 6:15 am Wednesday as a top-end Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds, Hurricane Maria finished a devastating pummeling of the island near 1:30 pm, when its eye emerged over the ocean off the northwest coast. An Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft found that Maria’s 70-mile traverse of Puerto Rico had knocked the top winds of the storm down to 110 mph by 5 pm Wednesday, making it a high-end Category 2 hurricane. Satellite images show the hurricane is still well-organized, though, and the Hurricane Hunters found that Maria’s pressure was falling again late Wednesday afternoon: 957 mb at 5 pm, compared to a 961 mb reading at 2 pm. Maria will continue to bring dangerous torrential rains and powerful winds to Puerto Rico and the eastern Dominican Republic into Thursday.

Maria brought extreme rainfall amounts to large portions of Puerto Rico that caused record or near-record flash flooding. Numerous stations in Puerto Rico recorded rainfall amounts in excess of ten inches. Rainfall amounts in excess of 47 inches in 24 hours were recorded at three stations on the southwest side of El Yunque, the high mountainous area in the northeast corner of Puerto Rico; these are so extreme as to be unbelievable, and the gauges may have been impacted by flash flooding, or by a calibration problem at extreme precipitaion rates …

The storm’s powerful winds caused catastrophic damage to the island’s power grid, knocking out power to 100% of Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million residents. In the Virgin Islands, there was also heavy damage on St. Croix, and serious flooding has been reported on St. Thomas …

Maria stayed over Puerto Rico for several hours:

After making landfall in southeast Puerto Rico near 6:15 am Wednesday as a top-end Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds, Hurricane Maria finished a devastating pummeling of the island near 1:30 pm, when its eye emerged over the ocean off the northwest coast. An Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft found that Maria’s 70-mile traverse of Puerto Rico had knocked the top winds of the storm down to 110 mph by 5 pm Wednesday, making it a high-end Category 2 hurricane. Satellite images show the hurricane is still well-organized, though, and the Hurricane Hunters found that Maria’s pressure was falling again late Wednesday afternoon: 957 mb at 5 pm, compared to a 961 mb reading at 2 pm. Maria will continue to bring dangerous torrential rains and powerful winds to Puerto Rico and the eastern Dominican Republic into Thursday.

Maria previously ravaged other Caribbean islands. A picture caption at the top of Masters’s article reads:

Damage on the Lesser Antilles island of Dominica, after Hurricane Maria hit as a Category 5 storm with 160 mph winds. Maria killed at least 7 people on Dominica, and 2 on neighboring Guadeloupe. Image from a video by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.

Zero Hedge has a good article, with part of the title being a quote, ‘We’ve Never Seen Anything Like This’ (emphasis in the original below):

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosello indicated this was life-changing:

We have not experienced an event of this magnitude in our modern history.

Earlier, on Dominica and Guadeloupe (emphases mine):

“It is devastating, indeed, mind boggling,” Roosevelt Skerrit, Dominica’s prime minister, said in a statement. The eastern Caribbean nation with a population of 75,000 has “lost all what money can buy and replace,” he said. Skerrit said he was rescued after the roof of his house was torn off by the storm.

At least six people have died on the island of Dominica, according to a spokeswoman for the government in London. “Damage is extensive throughout the island,” she said, “and people are walking the streets in a delirious state of mind.” With all lines of communication down, the government was relying on amateur radio, or ham radio, operators for updates, according to Bloomberg. In addition, at least two have been confirmed dead on the island of Guadeloupe.

Tell me there isn’t some sort of message in all this destruction.

Those of us living far away should pay attention and mend our ways, because this wrath is directed at all of mankind. I rarely write about storms, but the past few weeks have been phenomenal.

Maria in the record books

Henson reported that Maria is the record books:

Maria was the second strongest hurricane ever recorded to hit Puerto Rico, behind only the 1928 San Felipe Segundo hurricane, which killed 328 people on the island and caused catastrophic damage. Puerto Rico’s main island has also been hit by two other Category 4 hurricanes, the 1932 San Ciprian Hurricane, and the 1899 San Ciriaco Hurricane.

  • In terms of top sustained wind, Maria is the fifth strongest hurricane on record to hit the U.S. behind only the four Cat 5s to hit the country (Hurricane Andrew of 1992 in South Florida, Hurricane Camille of 1969 in Mississippi, the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 in the Florida Keys, and the 1928 hurricane in Puerto Rico.)
  • In terms of lowest atmospheric pressure at landfall, Maria (917 mb) ranks third in U.S. records behind only the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane and Camille.
  • Maria’s landfall at Category 4 strength gives the U.S. a record three Category 4+ landfalls this year (Maria, Harvey, and Irma). The previous record was two such landfalls, set in 1992 (Cat 5 Andrew in Florida, and Cat 4 Iniki in Hawaii.)

Masters’s article added:

Maria is almost assured to be the most expensive hurricane in Puerto Rico history, and may challenge Hurricane Hugo (1989) and Irma (2 weeks ago) as the most expensive hurricane on record for the U.S. Virgin Islands.

This was how the 1928 San Felipe Segundo hurricane was reported by a Nebraska newspaper. Note ‘God’s Fury!’ above the map:

The hurricane wreaked havoc — tornadoes and severe rain — from South Dakota eastward to New York.

For anyone wondering, Puerto Rico was spelled that way in those days. The United States did not use ‘ue’ until 1948.

Financially devastating

The cost of clean-up, restoration and rebuilding of parts of Texas, Florida, the Caribbean — and Mexico — will be massive, crippling in some cases.

The Zero Hedge article said:

Maria could cause $30 billion in damage to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, according to Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler for Enki Research. The island, which filed for bankruptcy in May after years of economic decline while a series of defaults, has been effectively shut out of capital markets, which could slow the recovery process, Bloomberg reports. Its aging government-owned electric utility operates under court protection from creditors and its emergency fund stood at about $32 million before Irma knocked out electricity access for hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans.

Although President Donald Trump has been busy at the UN for the past two days, he has been keeping a close eye on developments:

Below, he says that what has happened in Puerto Rico is ‘very, very sad’ and that Maria has made it a very different island:

The mayor of San Juan agrees:

The Trump administration will get relief work started as soon as practicable. He will also be visiting the island, probably the first president to do so after a disaster:

Images of Maria and Puerto Rico

Near the end of this moving GIF, Maria’s eye looks just like the hurricane symbol. Now I understand why the symbol has that shape:

The wild gyration, Stu Ostro says, is unusual.

There was also low pressure in a new location:

This short video shows Maria as she moved through parts of Puerto Rico:

Much of the island has been hit by flooding, which continues — said to be ‘catastrophic’ on Thursday:

Maria is still a strong hurricane:

In fact:

And:

This is a photo of the ocean:

Power is out for everyone in Puerto Rico:

Power will be out for some time:

Wow:

The man interviewed below said that he has lived through hurricanes before, but nothing like Maria. He said that his friends felt the same way:

A curfew is in effect for the entire island for the next few days:

El Nuevo Dia has news on the devastation.

The forecast

Something out of this world is going on here, because:

On Thursday:

This is a possible path:

Here is a timeline:

In closing

(I think ‘chela’ above was meant to be ‘heal’.)

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