Friday, May 8, 2009

CHPP Daily Brief - May 8, 2009

In This Issue
• The Daily Brief
• The Middle East in Focus
• The Good News Corner

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The Daily Brief - Friday, May 8, 2009

"May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you." (Psalm 33:22)

The Daily Brief

1. A. Wall Street extends the rally - CNN

Stocks surged Friday, extending the two-month rally, after a government report showed employers cut fewer jobs than expected last month. The release of the long-awaited bank stress test results also gave the market a boost. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 165 points, or 2%, ending at the highest point since Jan. 9th. The S&P 500 index rose 22 points, ending at the highest point since Jan. 6. The Nasdaq composite added 23 points.

B. U.S. to Wind Down Help for Some Banks - Washington Post

The government signaled yesterday that its financial rescue efforts may have reached their high-water mark, announcing that the much-anticipated "stress tests" of 19 large banks showed that only one, GMAC, was likely to need additional taxpayer aid and that it would begin to unwind assistance for the healthiest firms. Despite a deepening recession and projections that banks will continue to lose money, the government will require the firms to increase their combined capital by as little as $9.5 billion. The government will require the banks to further strengthen their capacity to absorb losses by adding $74.6 billion to the portion of their capital that comes from common equity. Banks are likely to raise some of that money from investors and some by converting other forms of capital.

- As this economy rebounds, we pray that we will not once again be trapped by the bonds of consumerism. May we be reminded of the peace and security that arises from resting all of our needs in Your hands.

- "For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?" (Matthew 6:25)

2. Obama Sits Out National Day of Prayer as Millions Pray for Him - CNS

A caucus room in a House of Representatives office building was transformed into a place of worship on Thursday, as people in the nation's capital joined with millions of others Americans across the country to celebrate the National Day of Prayer.

- We praise You for the outpouring of prayer that covered this nation yesterday. Lord, we pray that we will continue to stand in the gap and pray for spiritual renewal for this country.

- "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." (Philippians 4:6)

3. AP sources: 3 options mulled for gov't health plan - AP

Senators are considering three options for a new government health insurance plan that middle-income Americans could buy into for the first time. Congressional officials familiar with the proposals told The Associated Press Friday that senators plan to debate the three options during a closed meeting next week. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the controversial plans have not been officially released. One would look like Medicare. Another would be based on Medicare, but administered by an outside party. The third would leave it up to the states to set up a public insurance plan for residents.

- While Congress is consider whether to enforce nationalized health care, we pray for wisdom and for these legislators to open their ears to the concerns of their constituents. Lord, continue to assure us that our health depends on You and not on man's plan.

- "He delivers the afflicted in their affliction, And opens their ear in time of oppression." (Job 36:15)

4. A. More than 30K ordered to flee Santa Barbara fire - AP

Turning the horizon a lurid orange and raining embers on roofs as it advanced, a raging wildfire that has destroyed scores of homes in the hills menaced this celebrity enclave and other coastal towns Friday, and the number of people ordered to flee climbed to 30,000. Authorities warned an additional 23,000 to be ready to leave at a moment's notice.

B. Calif. wage cuts may threaten billions in fed aid - AP

State officials fear California could lose billions needed to help fill the budget gap after the Obama administration determined the state violated the terms of the federal stimulus act. A legal letter prepared for a branch of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department said California breached the terms of the act when lawmakers approved a state wage cut for health care workers they said would save $74 million a year. The health care workers' union argued the cut violated the act because it would force counties to make up the difference. In a letter sent this week to Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger urged the administration not to withhold the money and disputed the health department's claim. Should the decision stand, the governor warned it would undermine one of the main purposes of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to help fill state deficits by jeopardizing at least $6.8 billion in stimulus funds. "It is clear that California is in dire need of the fiscal relief made available under (the recovery act)," Schwarzenegger wrote. "As welcome as this federal aid is, it represents just a fraction of California's deficits over the next few years."

C. Calif. lawmakers approve oath change - UPI

The California state Senate has voted to give some state workers the option of not taking an oath to defend the state and federal constitutions, officials said.

- Lord, we pray for those in California who are suffering at the hands of these fires. We pray that their public officials will protect them against both nature and man. May there be revival in this state so that they can be an example for the rest of the nation.

- "If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king." (Daniel 3:17)

5. Obama Envoy Warns N Korea on Nuke Test, Urges Talks - ABC News

President Barack Obama's top envoy for North Korea warned of "consequences" if the regime pushes ahead with a threatened atomic test and urged Pyongyang to instead return to dialogue with Washington to defuse nuclear tensions. "Nothing would be expected from the U.S., which remains unchanged in its hostility toward its dialogue partner," North Korea's Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried Friday by state media. The North "will bolster its nuclear deterrent as it has already clarified."

- Lord, please give wisdom and discernment for those who will be speaking with the North Koreans. Let us be vigilant to protect our allies and ourselves against potential attacks.

- "Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries, For false witnesses have risen against me, And such as breathe out violence." (Psalm 28:3)

6. Nearly 270,000 Brazilians flee floods - MSNBC

Northern Brazil's worst floods in decades have driven 268,000 people from their homes. As of Friday, 39 people had been killed.

- May those who are forced to leave their homes be protected from all dangers they may encounter. Please give comfort to the families of those who are lost, and we pray for renewing strength for aid workers who are challenged with finding housing and supplies for these refugees.

- "Incline Your ear to me, rescue me quickly; Be to me a rock of strength, A stronghold to save me." (Psalm 31:2)

7. Venezuela Pres. Chavez to seize some oil contractors under new law - USA Today

President Hugo Chavez said his government will begin seizing control of some oil contractors following the National Assembly's approval of a law that paved the way for the takeovers. The law approved by the largely pro-Chavez assembly on Thursday enables state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, to take over contractors without following the usual procedures to expropriate business.

- May those in power who are thieves be stopped. Lord, we pray that this administration will stand strong for the companies whose goods are being stolen.

- "For he has oppressed and forsaken the poor. He has violently taken away a house, and he shall not build it up." (Job 20:19)

The Middle East in Focus

This week, for all the headlines cited below, please join us in proclaiming THIS DECREE:

"The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed, He has girded Himself with strength." (Psalm 93:1)

1. Netanyahu can be a peacemaker, says quartet envoy Blair - Jerusalem Post

Quartet emissary Tony Blair on Thursday offered a strong endorsement of Binyamin Netanyahu's capacity to achieve peace, backing the prime minister's focus on fostering West Bank economic growth and bolstering the Palestinians' security capacity.

2. U.S.: We are committed to Syrian-Israeli peace deal - Ha'aretz

The United States told Syria on Thursday it was committed to seeking a peace deal between the Syrian government and Israel, a main objective for Damascus in its rapprochement with Washington.

3. Israel police seize 2,000-yr-old papyrus document - AFP

Israeli authorities have recovered what appears to be a rare 2,000-year-old papyrus document they believe was initially dug up in an illegal excavation, an antiquities specialist said.

4. Peres won't rule out "other options" against Iran - Reuters

Israeli President Shimon Peres said on Wednesday other options remained open if U.S. diplomatic engagement with Iran failed to halt its nuclear program.

The Good News Corner

Public Takes Conservative Turn on Gun Control, Abortion

Public attitudes on a pair of contentious national issues -- gun control and abortion -- have moved in a more conservative direction over the past year. In both cases, the changes have been driven in part by relatively large shifts among men, while opinions among women have not changed very much.

For the first time in a Pew Research survey, nearly as many people believe it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns (45%) than to control gun ownership (49%). As recently as a year ago, 58% said it was more important to control gun ownership while 37% said it was more important to protect the right to own guns.

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted March 31-April 21 among 1,521 adults reached on landlines and cell phones, also finds public opinion about abortion more closely divided than it has been in several years. Currently, 46% say abortion should be legal in most cases (28%) or all cases (18%); 44% believe that abortion should be illegal in most (28%) or all cases (16%). Since the mid-1990s, majorities have consistently favored legal abortion, with the exception of an August 2001 survey by ABC News/Washington Post

The proportion saying that abortion should be legal in all or most cases has declined to 46% from 54% last August. The decline in support for legal abortion has come entirely in the share saying abortion should be legal in most cases (from 37% to 28%); 18% say abortion should be legal in all cases, which is virtually unchanged from last August (17%). Currently, 44% say abortion should be illegal in most (28%) or all cases (16%), up slightly since last August (41%). (Pew Research Center).