U.S. OFFICIALS WARNED DNC OF HACK MONTHS BEFORE THE PARTY ACTED
Federal investigators tried to warn the Democratic National Committee about a potential intrusion in their computer network months before the party moved to try to fix the problem, U.S. officials briefed on the probe tell CNN.
The revelation raises questions about whether the DNC could have done more to limit the damage done by hackers suspected of working for Russian intelligence.
The DNC brought in consultants from the private security firm CrowdStrike in April. And by the time suspected Russian hackers were kicked out of the DNC network in June, the hackers had been inside for about a year.
A person briefed on the DNC's response says the warning from the FBI and other agencies wasn't specific, and that the extent of the problem wasn't clear when the initial warnings came. DNC officials hired outside help after additional indications surfaced that their systems were compromised.
The DNC breach occurred around the same time as breaches of U.S. government systems at the State Department and the White House. Analysts from the National Security Agency found signatures in those breaches that led them to suspect there were other intrusions outside the government, including at the DNC.
"I talked to the general counsel of the DNC today and he assures me that every step along the way when we were notified of these issues that we changed systems, changed procedures," said DNC vice chairwoman Donna Brazile to CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "But these hackers are so sophisticated that they changed procedures. So yes, it went on for more than a year, but at no time did we ignore the warning from the FBI or any other federal officials."
Earlier on Monday, the FBI confirmed it was investigating a hack into the DNC, the first acknowledgment from the agency that they are probing the incident, which U.S. officials suspect came from a Russian cyber attack.
Fallout over the emails led DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to announce her resignation Sunday.
"The FBI is investigating a cyber intrusion involving the DNC and are working to determine the nature and scope of the matter," the agency said in a statement. "A compromise of this nature is something we take very seriously, and the FBI will continue to investigate and hold accountable those who pose a threat in cyberspace."
The suspected Russian hack is part of a wave of Russian cyber attacks aimed at political organizations and academic think tanks in Washington, U.S. officials briefed on the investigations say.
Over the weekend, Wikileaks began publishing emails from the DNC. The group didn't identify the source. But the campaign of presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton pointed the finger at Russia, saying the release of stolen emails was intended to help Republican nominee Donald Trump.
Wasserman Schultz resigning as party leader
The FBI has sent experts to meet with the Republican National Committee, as well as the major campaigns, to discuss their security measures, the officials say. No similar intrusions have so far been detected at the RNC or the campaigns of the two major party candidates, the officials say.
Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union" Sunday about that "changes to the Republican platform to make it more pro-Russian," which could provide some of the motive behind the hacks.
"I don't think it's coincidental that these emails were released on the eve of our convention here, and I think that's disturbing," he said.
Trump told The New York Times in an interview last week, that if he's elected the U.S. wouldn't defend NATO allies against Russian aggression if they haven't "fulfilled their obligation to us."
Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., denied that his father's campaign had anything to do with encouraging Russians to hack the DNC.
"I can't think of bigger lies, but that exactly goes to show you what the DNC and what the Clinton camp will do," Trump told Tapper on "State of the Union".
Even before the emails were posted on Wikileaks, the White House convened a security meeting to review what was known, U.S. officials told CNN.
Democrats, including some in Congress, are trying to pressure the White House to publicly name Russia as the perpetrator, in the way the government named North Korea in the Sony hack and China for hacking various U.S. companies. The Obama administration has resisted publicly naming Russia despite evidence gathered by U.S. government investigators showing Russian behind cyber-attacks on U.S. government agencies and even the public release in 2014 of a hacked phone call between U.S. diplomats in Ukraine that was caused embarrassment for the U.S.
At the State Department Monday, spokesman John Kirby refused to say Russia was responsible, citing the ongoing investigation.
"It goes without saying that issues of cyber security will be a topic of discussion between us and our Russian interlocutors on a continuous basis. I don't have any specific conversations to speak to and nor would I as this matter's under investigation by the FBI," Kirby said. "I think we need to let the FBI do their work before we try to form any conclusions here in terms of what happened and what the motivation was behind it. The FBI's spoken to this. We're going to respect that process."
James Trainor, assistant director for FBI's cyber division, told CNN in a recent interview that the bureau has been working with political organizations and think tanks to put more resources into the security of their computer networks. He wouldn't discuss the DNC or the role of Russia, but spoke generally about the increased number of such intrusions.
"There's been aggressive targeting of that sector, the various campaigns, think tanks in the Washington, DC area," Trainor said.
The "targeting of any candidate or any party (that) has political intelligence," Trainor said. "There's value in information there if you're a nation state actor, so (it) shouldn't be surprising."
Private-sector cyber security investigators hired by the DNC concluded that hackers working for the Russian government were behind the year-long breach of the DNC. The investigation found intrusions by two Russian hacking groups.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, however, dismissed claims. When asked by a reporter, "What do you say of the U.S. accusations that Russia hacked the Democratic Party emails?," Lavrov replied "Well, I don't want to use four-letter words."
At least one of the DNC intruders is believed to be behind other breaches of non-classified U.S. government systems at the White House, State Department and other agencies, security experts believe, based on an analysis of malicious software in the breaches.
The FBI and other U.S. agencies involved haven't yet officially attributed the DNC attack to Russian government hackers. But evidence gathered by the FBI so far points to groups that are known to U.S. counter-intelligence for carrying out intrusions for the Russian government, the officials briefed on the probe say.
The release of the emails over the weekend, however, raised new questions among government and private sector security officials.
It's possible that other hackers took advantage of the DNC's vulnerabilities and also stole information, U.S. officials said. But the intrusion so far appears to bear the hallmarks of a Russian intelligence operation.
Foreign spy agencies routinely try to collect information on U.S. elections, and there were some cyber attacks against political campaigns detected during the 2012 election cycle.
Typically, spy agencies collect such information to try to better inform their governments about U.S. politics. U.S. spy agencies do the same overseas.
Russian spy agencies have published embarrassing information to try to influence political events in countries they consider part of their sphere of influence. But to publicly release vast troves of stolen data to try to influence a U.S. election is beyond the scale of what U.S. counterintelligence officials have seen.
Whether Russian intelligence agencies provided the stolen information to Wikileaks, either directly or through middlemen, is now a top issue for U.S. investigators to resolve, the U.S. officials briefed on the probe say. The answer won't likely come until well after the election.
The impact of the release of the DNC hacked emails was almost immediate, prompting the ouster of the head of one of the two major political parties.
Since the hackers were in the DNC systems for about a year, U.S. officials expect more data releases. (Contributor: By Evan Perez for CNN)
More Reading: Kremlin dismisses US Democratic email hack claims as 'absurd' (AFP)
For prayer: Electronic spy “warfare” is a fact of 21st-century life. Pray for an appropriate response by authorities. IFA does not comment on such reports from a partisan viewpoint. We report, pointing readers toward God’s providence and urging fervent prayer for mercy for our nation. Political leaders with whom we disagree are not our “enemies,” and our “weapon” is intercession. God is in control.
“For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.” (Lk. 12:2-3)
RUSSIAN WARPLANES REPORTEDLY BOMBED U.S. BASE IN SYRIA
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the Russian strike on the CIA-linked site was part of a campaign by Russia to pressure the White House to agree to closer cooperation in the Syrian skies, U.S. military and intelligence officials said.
Despite the fact that some forces could have been killed and the bombing dampened relations between Russia and the Pentagon and CIA, the White House and State Department still persued a compromise.
The U.S. and Russia agreed to a pact last week to target airstrikes against the Al Qaeda affiliate in the region – Nusra Front – despite objections from the Pentagon and CIA. Russia agreed to stop airstrikes on U.S.-backed rebels and restrain the Syrian air campaign. The two sides are still talking about designations where Russia would need U.S. approval to conduct an airstrike.
According to The Wall Street Journal, deal backers in the White House and State Department believe U.S. airstrikes on the Nusra Front in areas that were previously occupied by Russian forces would provide protection for allies in Syria.
However, officials in the Pentagon and CIA contend that Washington bowed to Moscow in the deal and believe that the U.S. needs to confront Russia.
The Russian strike on the base occurred on June 16. The U.S. and British forces help maintain what is described as a buffer zone in Jordan. Forces go into Syria to help protect Jordan from Islamic State, U.S. officials told The Journal. Forces didn’t spend the night, due to security reasons.
Nearly a day before the strike, 20 of 24 British special forces pulled out of the base. The U.S. tracked a Russian plane heading toward the base. The warplane dropped a cluster bomb, according to U.S. and rebel officials.
After the first strike, U.S. central command air operations center in Qatar called Russia’s air campaign headquarters in Latakia, Syria to tell them that the base shouldn’t be attacked.
However, Russian forces struck again nearly 90 minutes after the call was made. Russian pilots didn’t respond to U.S. calls using frequencies the two sides had previously agreed to use in case of an emergency.
At least four rebels were killed in strikes.
Russian officials initially told the Pentagon that the military thought it was an Islamic State facility, but U.S. officials rejected the notion because of what they described as a unique way the base was fortified, The Journal reported.
Russians then said that the Jordanians had given them the go-ahead to strike the base, but the U.S. double-checked and said no such authorization was given. Later, Russia told the U.S. that their headquarters wasn’t in position to call off the strike because the U.S. didn’t provide them with the proper coordinates of the base.
U.S. officials said that the Pentagon had never asked the Russians to steer clear of that area because it wasn’t close to the front lines and Russian aircraft didn’t operate in that part of Syria anyway.
The strike has increased the distrust between U.S. and American forces in Syria. According to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. didn’t want to give Russia any more information than they had to.
Since the strike, the U.S. has told Russia to steer clear of the Jordanian border. (Contributor: By Fox News)
Again, we refuse to politicize our approach to the news. All who pray consistently for America know that our country needs a huge infusion of God’s grace and mercy. U.S. international status is low. We are suspect by many who want to see more strength and decisive leadership. Pray that principle will rule over pragmatism and fear. Will the Church lead the nation in a return to spiritual renewal?
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” (Prov. 14:34)
U.S. APPROVES UN USE OF FORCE TO PROTECT (?) CIVILIANS IN CONFLICT
The United States has announced its support for a set of principles that give a green light for U.N. peacekeeping troops and police to use force to protect civilians in armed conflicts. [This agreement was signed by President Obama July 1, 2016.] (Click here to read the Executive Order)
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power told a high-level U.N. meeting Wednesday focusing on the responsibility to protect civilians that the United States was "proud" and "humbled" to join 28 other countries that have pledged to abide by the 18 pledges.
U.N. peacekeepers from these 29 countries are now required to act in cases where civilians are in danger.
"The Kigali Principles are designed to make sure that civilians are not abandoned by the international community again," she said, recalling how U.N. peacekeepers left Rwanda before the 1994 genocide and Srebrenica before the 1995 massacre. (Contributor: The Associated Press)
Pray for justice tempered with mercy. Although UN motives are suspect when it comes to relations with the U.S., pray that these principles will be effective to protect civilian citizens when international conflict breaks out. The most effective prayer is for God’s will to prevail, as He puts up rulers and takes them down in fulfilling His purposes.
“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.” (Dan. 2:20-22)
EXILED AT HOME: RUSSIA'S BELIEVERS CRY OUT TO GOD OVER LAW BANNING CHRISTIAN TALK
Thousands of churches in Russia are coming together to fast and pray just days after President Vladmir Putin signed a new anti-terrorism bill into law that severely restricts Christians' freedom of faith.
The "Yarovaya" law is intended to limit the spread of terrorism and extremisim, but church leaders say it punishes any kind of religious evangelization outside of the church.
"This new situation resembles the Soviet Union in 1929. At that time confession of faith was permitted only in church," Hannu Haukka, president of Great Commission Media Ministries, told National Religious Broadcasters. "Practically speaking, we are back in the same situation. These anti-terrorist laws are some of the most restrictive laws in post-Soviet history."
Haukka told Charisma News vial email that about 7,000 evangelical and Protestant churches are fasting and praying because the new law is in direct conflict with the purpose and mission of the Gospel.
Under the law, foreign missionaries will not be allowed to speak at a church unless they have a work permit from Russian authorities. Furthermore, any discussion about God with non-believers would be considered missionary activity and punishable by law.
This means that anyone as young as 14 who is found preaching could be persecuted. Additionally, religious activity in a private home is not allowed.
"It is impossible for believers to comply with the requirements not to express their religious beliefs and to be silent even in their own homes as required by the legislation," Seventh Day Adventist's Moscow-based Euro-Asia Division said.
The ministry went on to say that the religious situation in the country will grow considerably more complicated.
"Many believers will find themselves in exile and subjected to reprisals because of our faith," they said.
The legislation puts churches in a very difficult position and throws Russia back into it's Soviet-era KGB.
NRB President Jerry A. Johnson has called on the U.S. government to pressure Russia to repeal what he described as an "unjust law."
"Let's pray this new iron curtain of Christian persecution in Russia will be lifted quickly and without harm to our brothers and sisters in Christ," Johnson said. (Contributor: CBN News)
Give thanks and intercede for the 7,000 evangelical and Protestant churches that are praying and fasting for the repeal of this law. We know the New Testament enjoins Christians to be submissive to civil government insofar as possible, but there is precedent, when government oversteps to silence believers’ voices, that “holy disobedience,” regardless of cost or consequences, must be followed.
“And the high priest asked them, saying, ‘Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name?’ … But
Peter and the other apostles answered and said: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.’” (Acts5:28-29)
VERMONT DOCTORS PUSH BACK AGAINST ASSISTED-SUICIDE REQUIREMENT
Members of two medical groups, the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare and Christian Medical & Dental Associations, filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against officials in two state medical agencies responsible for the interpretation.
The lawsuit says these agencies have interpreted a 2013 physician-assisted suicide law, Act 39, in a way that would require health care professionals to counsel terminally ill patients about the option to commit suicide.
Additionally, under such an interpretation of the law, if medical professionals are not willing to help patients end their lives, then they must refer them to physicians who will, the lawsuit says.
Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Steven H. Aden, who represents the medical professionals, said this reading of the law violates the First Amendment and certain aspects of Obamacare.
He said the government “shouldn’t be telling health care professionals that they must violate their medical ethics in order to practice medicine.”
“These doctors and other health care workers deeply believe that suffering patients need understanding and sound medical treatment, not encouragement to kill themselves,” Mr. Aden said in a statement. “The state has no authority to order them to act contrary to that sincere and time-honored conviction.”
A Frequently Asked Questions page on the Vermont Department of Health’s website says Act 39, in conjunction with the Patient’s Bill of Rights, requires doctors to inform patients about their right to kill themselves.
“Do doctors have to tell patients about this option?” it reads. “Under Act 39 and the Patient’s Bill of Rights, a patient has the right to be informed of all options for care and treatment in order to make a fully-informed choice.”
The Patient’s Bill of Rights requires doctors to notify patients of “all options” with regard to palliative care.
Mr. Aden said the agencies have adopted an extreme interpretation of what “palliative care” entails, saying his plaintiffs “generally support” providing care to suffering patients.
“I mean, that’s pain relief, management of end-of-life care — good things,” he said. “But they read that in conjunction with the Act 39 to require ‘all options’ for assisted suicide be counseled for.”
George Eighmey, president of the assisted-suicide advocacy group Death with Dignity, which helped draft Act 39, called the lawsuit “baseless” and “frivolous.”
He said Act 39 does not mandate counsel or referral for physician-assisted suicide, and the lawsuit’s real complaint lies with the Patient’s Bill of Rights. He suggested Act 39 was lumped into the complaint for political purposes.
“The Patient Bill of Rights specifically says that a patient has the option and that physicians must inform them of all of their end-of-life options,” Mr. Eighmey said. “Now, if they choose to make that a referral under the Patient Bill of Rights, that’s a different story. And if they want to go after the Patient Bill of Rights, that’s their right to do that. But they’re not — they’re going after the Death with Dignity law, which does not mandate the referral.”
Linda Waite-Simpson, Vermont director for Compassion & Care and a former Democratic member of the state House of Representatives, concurred that Act 39 does not require physicians to refer patients to doctors who will perform physician-assisted suicide.
“But physicians should not impose their personal ethics and values on their patients and deny their legal right in Vermont to receive information about their end-of-life care options so they can make an informed decision about their treatment options,” Ms. Waite-Simpson said in a statement.
Several officials from the Vermont Board of Medical Practice and the Office of Professional Regulation are named in the lawsuit. David Herlihy, director of the former, said he had not seen the lawsuit and accordingly declined to comment. The latter agency could not be reached for comment before press time.
Three other states — California, Oregon and Washington — legislatively permit physician-assisted suicide. None of those laws has been interpreted to require physicians or medical professionals to counsel or refer patients to doctors willing to help them commit suicide.
However, the Vermont lawsuit comes amid a “disturbing trend” of religious medical professionals being forced to violate the tenants of their faith, Mr. Aden said, pointing to lawsuits against Catholic hospitals that refuse to perform abortions.
“It is part of a disturbing trend, disregarding and even attacking individuals for conscientious beliefs,” he said. “In this case, the conscientious objection to killing a patient is under the Hippocratic Oath and goes back thousands of years.” (Contributor: By Bradford Richardson for The Washington Times)
Pray for doctors and all health-care professionals who are being pressured to violate conscientious beliefs in their vows to “first, do no harm.” These dedicated practitioners understand that patients have rights, but those who serve them needn’t help them toward the ultimate step of suicide. Pray for an awakened Church to stand against the persistent “crusade” to push God out of American life.
“For whoever finds me (divine wisdom) finds life, and obtains favor from the Lord; but he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; all those who hate me love death.” (Prov. 8:35-36)
U.S. CARDINAL SAYS ‘CHRISTIAN NATIONS’ IN WEST MUST COUNTER ISLAMIC INFLUX
Amid heightened tensions over ISIS-fueled terror attacks and anti-Muslim rhetoric, a prominent U.S. cardinal says Islam “wants to govern the world” and Americans must decide if they are going to reassert “the Christian origin of our own nation” in order to avoid that fate.
Cardinal Raymond Burke, a Rome-based prelate known as an outspoken conservative and critic of Pope Francis’ reformist approach, said in an interview on Wednesday (July 20) that Islam is “fundamentally a form of government.”
While Catholic teaching recognizes that all Abrahamic faiths worship the same God, Burke criticized Catholic leaders who, in an effort to be tolerant, have a tendency “to simply think that Islam is a religion like the Catholic faith or the Jewish faith.”
“That simply is not objectively the case,” he said.
Burke, who was once archbishop of St. Louis, stressed that he did not want to be “disrespectful” of Islam or “generate hostility.”
But he said he worries that many people do not understand that, in his view, “when they (Muslims) become the majority in any country they have the duty to submit the whole population to Shariah,” as the Islamic code of law is known.
The cardinal is a canon lawyer who headed the Vatican’s court system before Francis named him chaplain of the Knights of Malta, a Rome-based charitable order.
Burke was speaking by telephone from his home state of Wisconsin, where he was spending time this summer while doing interviews for a new book, “Hope for the World: To Unite All Things in Christ.” The book is an extended interview with a French journalist and it covers a range of often controversial topics.
Speaking to RNS, Burke said that individual Muslims “are lovely people” and can speak “in a very peaceful manner about questions of religion.”
“But my point is this: When they become a majority in any country then they have the religious obligation to govern that country. If that’s what the citizens of a nation want, well, then, they should just allow this to go on. But if that’s not what they want, then they have to find a way to deal with it.”
He said that in some cities in France and Belgium with large Muslim populations “there are little Muslim states” that are effectively “no-go zones” for government authorities – an assertion that is widely disputed.
But Burke claimed “these things aren’t anomalies for Islam. This is the way things are to go. … And if you do understand that and you are not at peace with the idea of being forcibly under an Islamic government, then you have reason to be afraid.”
He cited historical examples of famous military clashes between Muslim forces and the forces of Christian nations of Europe, such the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 and the Battle of Vienna in 1683, both of which marked defeats for the Ottoman Empire.
“These historical events relate directly with the situation of today. There’s no question that Islam wants to govern the world,” Burke said.
When asked how the West should respond, the cardinal did not cite or endorse specific proposals, like those championed by the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and other conservatives, to ban or limit Muslims coming into the U.S.
“I think the appropriate response,” he said, “is to be firm about the Christian origin of our own nation, and certainly in Europe, and the Christian foundations of the government, and to fortify those.”
He said that form of government permits all people to exercise their religious faith – “as long as it’s not against good order” – and “practices that tolerance which follows from Christian charity.”
“I think we have to insist on that. We have to say no, our country is not free to become a Muslim state.”
Those comments elaborate on an answer that Burke gives in the new book, in which he says of Islam that “the (Catholic) Church really should be afraid of it.”
That is a marked contrast to the approach of Francis and most other church leaders, who have called for dialogue with Islam and a welcoming attitude toward Muslim refugees fleeing strife in many lands.
Official church teaching has for decades also recognized Islam as an Abrahamic faith whose followers worship the same God as Jews and Christians.
Burke has frequently made news with his sharp criticisms of Francis’ pontificate (he once called it “a rudderless ship”) and the pope’s more pastoral approach. The cardinal has also called on church leaders to be more forceful in battling abortion rights and gay marriage and has said the church has become too “feminized.” (Contributor: By David Gibson for Religious News Service - David Gibson is a national reporter for RNS and an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker.)
Pray for Cardinal Raymond Burke who, for several years, has found balance between faithfulness to his Roman Catholic Church vows and his conscience, in warning of the danger from Islamic supremacy. It appears that he is to his Church what Rev. Franklin Graham is to the evangelical Church in the U.S. Pray that more Christian leaders will be aware and speak out with a united voice.
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (Eph. 6:11-13)
SCIENTISTS PLAN FIRST HUMAN TEST WITH GENE EDITING TOOL
Chinese scientists are embarking on what appear to be the first human trials with the Crispr gene editing tool, the latest effort by the country’s researchers to master a technology that might someday be a potent tool in developing therapies worldwide.
The group led by Lu You, an oncologist at the south-western Sichuan University West China Hospital, has recruited the first patient for a ten-people clinical trial, which will activate immune cells using Crispr and infuse them back into patients to fight lung cancer. Due to potential risks in using the pioneering treatment for humans, the team has decided to treat the first group of three patients one at a time, Lu said in a phone interview.
Formally called Crispr-Cas9, the genetic editing tool acts like a pair of precise molecular scissors that can cut out unwanted sections of DNA and insert desired ones. The team is using it to remove a gene that encodes a protein named PD-1, which normally keeps the immune cells in check but is also used by cancer cells to hide from the immune system.
The engineering is intended to switch on the immune response to attack cancer. In the pharmaceutical industry, antibody drugs directly blocking the PD-1 protein including Merck & Co.’s Keytruda and Opdivo sold by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. have become new growth engines for the companies.
"If this technology has good safety and shows certain efficacy, it has wide applications," said Lu. If successful, it has the potential to become an alternative biotechnology treatment to replace or complement the existing single antibody drugs, Lu said. Lu’s group received approval from the ethics board of the West China Hospital, one of the top facilities in the country.
They will observe the first patient for two months after injecting the Crispr-edited cells and if there is no problem, proceed to give the second patient the same treatment. If the first group of three patients responds well, they may be able to accelerate after that.
"We’ve learnt from past lessons that safety comes first. You have to make clear its safety profile before its preliminary efficacy can be discussed," said Lu. Patients must have the PD-L1 bio-marker and should have tried three to four lines of existing treatments available in China and failed to benefit from them, he said.
Lu acknowledges it is still very early days. The Phase I trial only tests if the technology is safe and Lu said his biggest worry is about overly activated immune cells attacking not just the cancer but also healthy cells, creating conditions similar to autoimmune diseases like lupus. Another problem is the possibility of unwanted mutations happening at sites other than the intended gene.
Chinese scientists have said they were among the first in using Crispr to make wheat resistant to a common fungal disease, dogs more muscular and pigs with leaner meat. In the southern city of Guangzhou, Chinese researchers sparked an international ethical debate last year after tweaking the genetic make-up of human embryos using Crispr for the first time. (Contributor: By Bloomberg News — with assistance by Hui Li)
Readers can readily see both the promise and the warnings implicit in the use of this new gene-editing tool. As with similar discoveries, it has the potential to bring healing and at the same time, to generate new problems. IFA shares early reports for intercessors to be aware and to watch for later developments. Pray for God’s glory to be revealed and for positive, healing applications.
“…and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Col. 2:2-3)
CHRISTIAN STUDENTS IN CHINA BARRED FROM GOING TO COLLEGE UNLESS THEY STOP GOING TO CHURCH
Chinese students attending a Christian house church in the central Guizhou province are being threatened by government authorities who are warning them that if they don't stop going to the church, they will be barred from going to college.
"This notice was sent to all of the schools in Huaqiu," explained Mou, the person that human-rights advocacy group China Aid said was in charge of Huaqiu Church. "They (public security) intend to cleanse us and ask us to join the Three-Self Church."
The house church members have also reportedly been pressured into signing a document vowing that they will not take minors into the church. Additionally, parents have been told that they will be sued if they bring their children to church, while the children themselves will not be allowed to take the college entrance exam or be admitted into the army.
House churches in China face regular crackdowns from the Communist Party, which fears the rise of Christianity in the world's most populous nation, with followers of Christ outnumbering members of the Party.
Even state-run churches have faced religious freedom challenges in the past couple of years, with an ongoing-campaign continuing to tear down church buildings and church rooftop-crosses over alleged building code violations in several Chinese provinces. Protests from Christian pastors and church members have led to hundreds of arrests.
China Aid explains that children younger than 18 are not allowed to receive any religious education. The Three-Self Patriotic Movement, a government-run Protestant church, does not permit the "brainwashing" of teenagers or children by bringing them to religious services.
Mou added: "Yesterday morning, I questioned a government official in our township, saying, 'We do not accept the way you handled our church's public meetings. … What regulations does the central government have prohibiting [church] meetings? Let us see them.' He said, 'The higher level leadership ordered us to do this; we are just doing [as they say].' Huaqiu is in a dark place."
Churches in the Pingyang County, Wenzhou have meanwhile been told to hand over all of their tithes and donations to government officials, the Texas-based human rights agency said in a previous report. One local Christian man, who wasn't named, said government officials interfere in church affairs and seek to manage the donations that churches receive, as well as their long-term projects.
"We have to obtain their (the government's) permission if we would like to buy equipment or decorate the church. We will have to ask for permission for any expenses more than a few thousand yuan ($300)," the Christian man said.
He added that government officials have also asked to speak to the congregations during services, and church leaders have had to set up tables for them. (Contributor: By Christian Post)
Pray for Chinese house church leaders and believers who suffer persecution and other discriminatory harassment and worse. Many pastors are in prison. Communism is atheistic, and government leaders want to wipe out the true Church. Intercessors must remember that today’s socialism is tomorrow’s communism. Pray that our U.S. government will not turn that way. Pray for renewal in our churches.
“Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death…’” (Rev. 12:10-12).