Today With Ray – Worldwide News 9/20/2015
(CNN) Two large wildfires burning for days in Northern California have destroyed more than 1,000 homes and hundreds of outbuildings, fire authorities said.
The Valley Fire has consumed 585 homes as while raging through Lake, Napa and Sonoma Counties over the course of a week. It has destroyed hundreds of other structures and scorched more than 70,000 acres of land, according to the state wildfire fighting agency Cal Fire.
Another wildfire burning in a nearby area, the Butte Fire, has destroyed 511 residences and more than 330 outbuildings in the course of at least 10 days. Cal Fire’s data was posted late Saturday.
Late Saturday, many of the current fires burning in California were nearly 100% contained, and the Valley Fire and Butte Fire were mostly contained.
The American West has seen one of its worst fire seasons this year, burning through a particularly large area of the landscape, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Nearly 9 million acres have gone up in flames so far this year compared with close to 3 million over the same period in 2014.
This year’s tally is already higher than any other in the last decade. Four years of exceptional drought in California in particular have provided a lot of dry tinder for the flames.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei released a video published to YouTube this week in which he warned of an American defeat in any war with Iran.
The clip — published September 13 to Khamenei’s official YouTube channel — is entitled “If Any War Happens.” It features Khamenei’s voice and is accompanied by English subtitles.
The video was viewed almost half a million times by September 18.
The clip begins by showing an image of US President Barack Obama sitting down for an interview in which he says that the US will not have a problem “knocking out [Iran’s] military with speed and dispatch if we choose to,” after which Khamenei’s voice appears to dismiss such a warning, calling it “boasting among strangers,” according to a translation provided in a report by MEMRI — the Middle East Media Research Institute.
The supreme leader then advises the Americans to “use their experiences [in the Middle East] correctly” as images play of suggested American “failures” in the background including photos of the advanced American RQ-170 drone that Iran brought down on its soil in December 2011; a photo of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah against a backdrop of a man flying the Hezbollah flag atop a missile and a mention of the Second Lebanon War in 2006; depictions of US forces being bombed in Afghanistan; and images of US forces carrying a coffin with the text “2003-2011 Iraq war” above it.
“We neither welcome nor begin any war. They must know that should any war break out, one who will emerge humiliated out of it will be invading and criminal America,” says Khamenei, according to the English subtitles.
In the background of the clip, a crowd says: “We will stand until the end, Khamenei is the leader.”
The Iranian leader has issued several threats against the US — and Israel — following the Iranian nuclear deal signed July 14 with world powers, which allows for sanctions relief in exchange for Iran curbing its controversial nuclear program and submitting to inspections.
The US is set to start implementing the deal October 18, but it is not yet clear when punitive measures will be lifted, as the International Atomic Energy Agency must first ensure Iranian compliance with the accord.
HAVANA (AP) — Pope Francis opens his first full day in Cuba on Sunday with what normally would be the culminating highlight of a papal visit: Mass before hundreds of thousands of people in Havana’s evocative Revolution Plaza.
The morning Mass kicks off a busy series of events for Francis, including a formal meeting with President Raul Castro and a likely encounter with his 89-year-old brother, Fidel. Francis will finish with an evening vespers service in the San Cristobal cathedral and meet with Cuban young people.
Young and old turned out in droves Saturday to line Francis’ motorcade route and welcome a man that many credit with helping bring about the thaw in relations between Cuba and the United States.
“This visit is like a breath of hope blowing over Cuba,” Diego Carrera, a retiree, said as he awaited Francis at the start of a 10-day trip to the onetime Cold War adversaries.
Francis wrote a personal appeal to Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro and hosted their delegations at a secret meeting at the Vatican last year to seal a deal after 18 months of closed-door negotiations. Since then, the two leaders have reopened embassies in each other’s countries, held a personal meeting and at least two phone calls and launched a process aimed at normalizing ties in fields ranging from trade to tourism to telecommunications.
Upon his arrival, Francis plunged head-first into the rapprochement, urging the Cuban and U.S. governments to push forward on their newly forged path and “develop all its possibilities.”
The Vatican has long opposed the U.S. trade embargo on the grounds that it hurts ordinary Cubans most, and is clearly hopeful that detente will eventually lead to a lifting of sanctions.
But only the U.S. Congress can remove the embargo. Francis will visit Congress next week at the start of the U.S. leg of his trip, but it’s not known if he will raise the issue there.
Standing with Raul Castro by his side, Francis said the developments over recent months have given him hope.
“I urge political leaders to persevere on this path and to develop all its possibilities as a proof of the high service which they are called to carry out on behalf of the peace and well-being of their peoples, of all America, and as an example of reconciliation for the entire world,” he said.
Castro, for his part, criticized the embargo as “cruel, immoral and illegal” and called for it to end. But he also thanked Francis again for his role in fostering “the first step” in a process of normalizing relations.
The pope’s message on Sunday is likely to be less political and more pastoral.
Francis has said he is coming to Cuba as a messenger of mercy, aiming to give solidarity to a long-suffering people and church.
The island’s communist government never outlawed religion per se. But it came close, closing religious schools after Fidel Castro came to power in 1959, expelling priests and sending others to prison or work camps, including the current archbishop of Havana, Cardinal Jaime Ortega.
Castro began easing prohibitions on faith in the 1990s, removing constitutionally enshrined atheism ahead of a visit by Pope John Paul II and reinstating Christmas as a public holiday soon after.
The Catholic Church today has quietly established itself as practically the only independent institution with any widespread influence on the island. Expanding into areas once utterly dominated by the state, the church is providing tens of thousands of people with food, education, business training and even libraries stocked with foreign best-sellers.
But it still is seeking more freedom to spread the faith: Church authorities have long wanted to run full-time private schools and get religious programming on state-run airwaves, both of which the government has resisted
In his airport arrival speech, Francis said he hoped his visit would renew the bonds of friendship so the church can continue to do its job “with the freedom and the means necessary.”
While most Cubans are nominally Catholic, fewer than 10 percent practice their faith.
Magaly Delgado, an accountant, said she would be at the Mass on Sunday because “I’m a believer and this pope interests me a lot because of all the change that he’s making.”
The Jerusalem Post – The recent CNN poll found that only 39 percent of Americans know the president’s religious denomination. According to the survey, 29 percent think he is Muslim, 4 percent think he is Catholic, 2 percent think he is Mormon and 1 percent think he is Jewish.
Is Obama a Muslim? Is Obama a Christian? Why is it important to find out who is he indeed?
JERUSALEM Post, Israel — Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas said he plans to drop a “bombshell” at the end of his speech to the U.N. General Assembly later this month.
Abbas told the London-based Arabic language newspaper Al Quds Al-Arabi, “I am not going to reveal now the nature of this bombshell.”
Some Palestinians believe he might announce his resignation, while others speculate he could suspend the Oslo Accords signed between the Palestine Liberation Organization, Israel, and the United States in 1993.
Another theory is that he will announce the suspension of security cooperation with Israel, which has kept the level of violence down in Palestinian areas of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).
Abbas is slated to address the General Assembly on Sept. 29.
Some sources close to Abbas have said he plans to resign before the end of the year, but others deny it.
Meanwhile outgoing Israeli U.N. Ambassador Ron Proser responded to the Security Council’s statement calling for both sides to “lower tensions and discourage violence at holy sites in Jerusalem.”
“Muslim worshippers at the Haram al-Sharif must be allowed to worship in peace, free from violence, threats, and provocations,” the statement read.
“This statement, which only uses the Arabic name for the Temple Mount, affirms the right of Muslims to be present and to pray at the compound, but completely ignores the deep connection of the Jewish people to the Temple Mount and the right of all to visit the site,” Proser said.
“The chairman of the Palestinian Authority encourages and legitimizes extremist Islamic activities with his anti-Semitic remarks,” he said, opting to “fuel the fire in a most shameful manner.”
GOP debate winners and losers
The Hill Niall Stanage – 09/17/15 12:54 AM EDT
The second Republican debate on Wednesday night was a marathon, running for three hours at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif. Who crossed the line strong and who stumbled along the way?
Fiorina seized her big moment, having moved up from the “B-team” forum to which she was confined at the first debate in Cleveland last month. If expectations were high for Fiorina, she surpassed them with an engaged, passionate performance. A forceful denunciation of Planned Parenthood might have been her standout moment in terms of connecting with the Republican electorate at an emotional level. But she also scored highly throughout, in moments as diverse as discussing foreign policy on one hand and mixing it up with Donald Trump on the other.
Rubio had a strong night, especially on foreign policy, where he showed real depth. He also more than once laid out positions that were somewhat similar to those of his mentor, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, but were delivered with much greater crispness. For example, after Bush meandered through a defense of speaking Spanish on the campaign trail, Rubio argued that it was important for Spanish-speaking voters to hear conservative arguments “directly from me, not from a translator at Univision.” Rubio’s performance at the first debate was also well-received yet made little difference to his polling numbers. Could he get a bump this time?
For all the negative attention Christie has received recently, he has considerable political skills, not least that he is a formidable debater. His best moment came during an exchange between Fiorina and Trump about their respective business careers. The New Jersey governor, forceful as ever, insisted that “for the 55-year-old construction worker out in that audience tonight who doesn’t have a job, who can’t fund his child’s education, I’ve got to tell you the truth: They could care less about your careers.” No-one knows whether Christie’s performance will change his fortunes with GOP voters who have proven impervious to his charms so far. But he had a good night by any measure.
Carson went into the debate as the closest challenger to Trump in the polls, with the GOP electorate warming up to his low-key, affable style. Carson did not deviate from that path on Wednesday. He didn’t have any single great moment, but it was a proficient performance. And Carson did show that, despite his laid-back style, he can be quick on his feet. After Trump expressed skepticism about vaccines, a smiling Carson shot back, “He’s an OK doctor” — a phrase Trump had used only days before about Carson, an acclaimed former neurosurgeon.
Cruz appealed to the party faithful on Wednesday with a robust defense of the right to bear arms and a vigorous condemnation of the Iran nuclear deal, among other matters. Cruz also showed that he has as strong a command of TV debating technique as anyone in the field — including looking directly into the camera rather than at audience members. It remains unclear if he can expand his support beyond the most conservative reaches of the GOP, but he had a good night.
Trump was nowhere near as dominant a presence as he was at the first debate, in part because he came under much more sustained attack from his rivals. Trump had some unsteady moments, including one instance when he appeared to suggest he would get himself better informed about threats facing the United States between now and potentially assuming the presidency. He also slid away from his recent personal criticisms of Fiorina by insisting that “she has a beautiful face” — hardly a remark that would win over his own detractors. But he was, on balance, a winner for two reasons. Firstly, for all the punches thrown at him, none put him on the canvas. Secondly, he again got under the skin of Jeb Bush, likely deepening the troubles for the favorite candidate of the GOP establishment.
The Ohio governor has been trying to overtake Bush as the establishment choice, and he seemed to be trying to present himself as an electable grown-up. He had his moments but, as one of the lesser-known candidates nationwide, he needs to make a significant impact every time he is in front of a big national audience. He didn’t appear to do so on Wednesday evening.
Huckabee has a very different ideological appeal to Kasich, but there are some stylistic similarities: They are both somewhat folksy politicians who can be very effective communicators. But Huckabee suffered from a similar problem to Kasich: Although he had some strong moments — the Kim Davis controversy is almost tailor-made for him — it seems unlikely that he attained any real breakthrough.
The Wisconsin governor has been falling precipitously in the polls, in part because his performance at the first debate was widely seen as lacking fire and charisma. Walker came out of the gate impressively on Wednesday night with a jab at Trump — “We don’t need an apprentice in the White House” — but he mostly faded after that. His showing wasn’t as bad as it was in Cleveland, but he did nothing that looked likely to turn around his ailing fortunes.
Paul was put on his heels at the start of the night when Trump mocked him for, allegedly, not deserving to be on the stage at all. To be fair to Paul, his performance was not objectively bad. It just did nothing to change the minds of a Republican electorate that seems strongly disinclined to back him.
The consensus going into Wednesday night’s debate was that Bush needed an animated, commanding performance to erase memories of his hesitant showing in Cleveland. Instead, he delivered more of the same. His remarks on Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, in particular, seemed confused and contradictory. A defensiveness also crept into responses over his brother’s record. And while Bush tried to challenge Trump more assertively than in the first debate, the businessman got the better of most of their exchanges. Bush’s performance, taken in isolation, was not the worst on the stage. But it was far below what might be expected from a man who was the clear GOP front-runner not so long ago.
LINDEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A drone with a video camera plowed into the roof of a home in Linden, New Jersey on Thursday, and questions remained a day later day about who was operating it and why.
As CBS2’s Mark Morgan reported exclusively, Jane White was outside talking to a friend Thursday evening when she was stunned to see a drone flying through her neighborhood.
“I was looking up in the sky and we see the drone actually, you know, like, up there,” White said. “And when I came back around the corner, I heard it crash.”
In fact, it crashed right onto their house.
“When I got here, my daughter said ‘Ma, the drone landed on the house’, and that’s when I called the police,” she said.
Police units and the fire department responded and removed the drone, which police identified as a white Phantom model 2 with a camera attached. It is worth $300 to $700.
The White family told CBS2 the incident took place about 9 p.m. Thursday, and the drone landed right up near the top of the fire escape and some dormer windows.
White’s son, Ray, was asleep when the drone struck the house. But the ensuing commotion jolted him awake.
“It was a big crash, they said, but I didn’t hear it,” he said. “But I came out and saw everything that happened. It’s crazy.”
“I just wanted to be safe, you know, because they say they can carry anything,” she said. “Like, you know, I didn’t know if they might have explosives. And I have children, so that was my main concern — safety.”
Added Ray White: “It’s just part of life now I guess, because they’re accessible. You know, so, it’s just weird. It’s really weird.”
The White family is certainly relieved that everyone is safe, but they also seemed resigned to the fact that drones are likely here to stay, Morgan reported.
Police were looking late Friday for the operator of the drone. They said the operator called them, admitting the drone had crashed into the Whites’ house.
(CNN)Best-selling author Jackie Collins has died of breast cancer at the age of 77, her publicist Melody Korenbrot told CNN on Saturday.
Collins’ stories of the sexy, glamorous lives of Hollywood made her one of the world’s top-selling novelists,according to her website. With titles such as “Hollywood Wives,” “Rock Star” and “The Stud,” she sold more than 500 million copies in more than 40 countries.
People magazine reported Collins was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer six-and-a-half years ago and chose to keep the illness private. The magazine said she confided in her three daughters, Tracy, 54, Tiffany, 48, and Rory, 46.
The Collins family issued a statement on Facebook, saying, “It is with tremendous sadness that we announce the death of our beautiful, dynamic and one of a kind mother, Jackie Collins, who died of breast cancer today.
“She lived a wonderfully full life and was adored by her family, friends and the millions of readers who she has been entertaining for over 4 decades. She was a true inspiration, a trail blazer for women in fiction and a creative force. She will live on through her characters but we already miss her beyond words.”
2011: Author Jackie Collins on dealing with loss 02:14
Her sister, actress Joan Collins, told People she was “completely devastated” by her sister’s death.
“She was my best friend, ” Joan Collins, 82, said. “I admire how she handled this. She was a wonderful, brave and a beautiful person and I love her.”
And now “This Day in History”
September 20, 1519
Magellan sets out
Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan sets sail from Spain in an effort to find a western sea route to the rich Spice Islands of Indonesia. In command of five ships and 270 men, Magellan sailed to West Africa and then to Brazil, where he searched the South American coast for a strait that would take him to the Pacific. He searched the Río de la Plata, a large estuary south of Brazil, for a way through; failing, he continued south along the coast of Patagonia. At the end of March 1520, the expedition set up winter quarters at Port St. Julian. On Easter day at midnight, the Spanish captains mutinied against their Portuguese captain, but Magellan crushed the revolt, executing one of the captains and leaving another ashore when his ship left St. Julian in August.
On October 21, he finally discovered the strait he had been seeking. The Strait of Magellan, as it became known, is located near the tip of South America, separating Tierra del Fuego and the continental mainland. Only three ships entered the passage; one had been wrecked and another deserted. It took 38 days to navigate the treacherous strait, and when ocean was sighted at the other end Magellan wept with joy. He was the first European explorer to reach the Pacific Ocean from the Atlantic. His fleet accomplished the westward crossing of the ocean in 99 days, crossing waters so strangely calm that the ocean was named “Pacific,” from the Latin wordpacificus, meaning “tranquil.” By the end, the men were out of food and chewed the leather parts of their gear to keep themselves alive. On March 6, 1521, the expedition landed at the island of Guam.
Ten days later, they dropped anchor at the Philippine island of Cebú–they were only about 400 miles from the Spice Islands. Magellan met with the chief of Cebú, who after converting to Christianity persuaded the Europeans to assist him in conquering a rival tribe on the neighboring island of Mactan. In fighting on April 27, Magellan was hit by a poisoned arrow and left to die by his retreating comrades.
After Magellan’s death, the survivors, in two ships, sailed on to the Moluccas and loaded the hulls with spice. One ship attempted, unsuccessfully, to return across the Pacific. The other ship, the Vittoria, continued west under the command of Basque navigator Juan SebastiÁn de Elcano. The vessel sailed across the Indian Ocean, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and arrived at the Spanish port of SanlÚcar de Barrameda on September 6, 1522, becoming the first ship to circumnavigate the globe.
September 20, 1565
First European battle on American soil
Spanish forces under Pedro Menéndez de Avilés capture the French Huguenot settlement of Fort Caroline, near present-day Jacksonville, Florida. The French, commanded by Rene Goulaine de Laudonniere, lost 135 men in the first instance of colonial warfare between European powers in America. Most of those killed were massacred on the order of Aviles, who allegedly had the slain hanged on trees beside the inscription “Not as Frenchmen, but as heretics.” Laudonniere and some 40 other Huguenots escaped.
September 20, 1863
Confederates score a victory at the Battle of Chickamauga
In one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, the Confederate Army of Tennessee drove the Union Army of the Cumberland back into Chattanooga, Tennessee, from Chickamauga Creek in northern Georgia. Although technically a Confederate victory, the battle had little long-term effect on the military situation in the region. The battle of Chickamauga resulted in 18,500 Confederate casualties and 16,100 Union casualties.
September 20, 1881
Chester Arthur becomes third president to serve in one year
On this day in 1881, Chester Arthur is inaugurated, becoming the third person to serve as president in that year.
The year 1881 began with Republican Rutherford B. Hayes in office. Hayes served out his first and only term and officially turned over the reins of government to James A. Garfield, who happened to be a close friend of his, in March 1881. Just four months into his term, on July 2, Garfield was shot by a crazed assassin named Charles Guiteau. Guiteau claimed to have killed Garfield because he refused to grant Guiteau a political appointment. Garfield sustained wounds to his back and abdomen and struggled to recover throughout the summer. Though it appeared he would pull through in early September, the autopsy report revealed that the internal bullet wound contributed to an aneurism that ultimately killed Garfield on September 19.
The next day, Vice President Chester Arthur was sworn in as president. Strangely, Garfield’s assassin wrote to the new president from jail, taking credit for vaulting Arthur into the White House. According to President Hayes, Arthur’s administration was best known for “liquor, snobbery and worse.” He served only one term from 1881 to 1885.
This was the second time in American history that three men served as president in one year; a similar situation occured in 1841, when Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison and John Tyler all held the office.
September 20, 1918
U.S. officer George S. Patton writes home after Saint-Mihiel offensive
On September 20, 1918, 32-year-old Colonel George S. Patton of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) writes to his father from the Western Front in France, recounting his experiences during the American-led offensive against the Germans at Saint-Mihiel earlier that month.
Patton had previously served in Mexico in 1916 under General John J. Pershing during the U.S. army’s pursuit of Mexican rebel Pancho Villa. The following year, after the U.S. declared war on Germany, the young officer traveled to France as Pershing’s aide. At Saint-Mihiel, Patton was put in command of the light-tank brigade. The attack marked the AEF’s first major offensive operation as an independent army during World War I, as well as the first time the U.S. had used tanks in battle.
“Dear Papa,” Patton began his letter, “we have all been in one fine fight and it was not half so exciting as I had hoped, not as exciting as affairs in Mexico, because there was so much company. When the shelling first started I had some doubts about the advisability of sticking my head over the parapet, but it is just like taking a cold bath, once you get in, it is all right.” In the rest of the letter, Patton chronicles his experience in battle alongside a brigade commanded by General Douglas MacArthur (later the commander of all Allied forces in the South Pacific during World War II) and his movement on foot across the battlefield, evading German shells and surveying the damage inflicted by the battle. As Patton finally concluded, “This is a very egotistical letter but intersting [sic] as it shows that vanity is stronger than fear and that in war as now waged there is little of the element of fear, it is too well organized and too stupendous.”
Later wounded in the leg by a German machine-gun bullet, Patton was evacuated to a military hospital, where he enjoyed a full recovery. He returned home safe from France, receiving a Distinguished Service Cross and the Purple Heart for his service in World War I. Two decades later, as a general, Patton would play a leading role in World War II, becoming one of the most famous and controversial military figures in U.S. history.
September 20, 1943
British launch Operation Source
On this day in 1943, British submarines attempt to sink the German battleship Tirpitz as it sits in Norwegian waters, as Operation Source gets underway. The Tirpitz was the second largest battleship in the German fleet (after the Bismarck) and a threat to Allied vessel movement through Arctic waters.
In January 1942, Hitler ordered the Germany navy to base the Tirpitz in Norway in order to attack Soviet convoys transporting supplies from Iceland to the U.S.S.R. The Tirpitz also prevented British naval forces from making their way to the Pacific. Winston Churchill summed up the situation this way: “The destruction or even crippling of this ship is the greatest event at the present time…. The whole strategy of the war turns at this period on this ship….”
Attacks had already been made against the Tirpitz. RAF raids were against it in January 1942 failed to hit it. Another raid was made in March; dozens of RAF bombers sought out the Tirpitz, which had been reinforced with cruisers, pocket battleships, and destroyers. All of the British bombers, once again, missed their target.
Sporadic attacks continued to be made against the German battleship, including an attempt in October 1942 to literally drive a two-man craft up to the ship and plant explosives on the Tirpitz‘s hull. This too failed because of brutal water conditions and an alert German defense. In 1943, the battleshipScharnhorst joined the Tirpitz, creating a threat to Allied shipping that caused all convoys to the Soviet Union to be temporarily halted. Finally, in September, six midget British subs set out to take the Tirpitz down for good. The midgets had to be towed to Norway by conventional subs. Only three of the six midgets made it to their target. This time, they were successful in attaching explosives to the Tirpitz‘s keel—and did enough damage to put it out of action for six months. Two British commanders and four crewmen were taken captive by the Germans and spent the rest of the war as POWs.
Ironically, the mighty Tirpitz fired its guns only once in aggression during the entire war—against a British coaling station on the island of Spitsbergen.
September 20, 1946
First Cannes Film Festival
The first annual Cannes Film Festival opens at the resort city of Cannes on the French Riviera. The festival had intended to make its debut in September 1939, but the outbreak of World War II forced the cancellation of the inaugural Cannes.
The world’s first annual international film festival was inaugurated at Venice in 1932. By 1938, the Venice Film Festival had become a vehicle for Fascist and Nazi propaganda, with Benito Mussolini’s Italy and Adolf Hitler’s Germany dictating the choices of films and sharing the prizes among themselves. Outraged, France decided to organize an alternative film festival. In June 1939, the establishment of a film festival at Cannes, to be held from September 1 to 20, was announced in Paris. Cannes, an elegant beach city, lies southeast of Nice on the Mediterranean coast. One of the resort town’s casinos agreed to host the event.
Films were selected and the filmmakers and stars began arriving in mid-August. Among the American selections was The Wizard of Oz. France offeredThe Nigerian, and Poland The Black Diamond. The USSR brought the aptly titled Tomorrow, It’s War. On the morning of September 1, the day the festival was to begin, Hitler invaded Poland. In Paris, the French government ordered a general mobilization, and the Cannes festival was called off after the screening of just one film: German American director William Dieterle’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Two days later, France and Britain declared war on Germany.
World War II lasted six long years. In 1946, France’s provincial government approved a revival of the Festival de Cannes as a means of luring tourists back to the French Riviera.
September 20, 1963
President John Kennedy proposes a joint mission to the moon
An optimistic and upbeat President John F. Kennedy suggests that the Soviet Union and the United States cooperate on a mission to mount an expedition to the moon. The proposal caught both the Soviets and many Americans off guard.
In 1961, shortly after his election as president, John F. Kennedy announced that he was determined to win the “space race” with the Soviets. Since 1957, when the Soviet Union sent a small satellite–Sputnik–into orbit around the earth, Russian and American scientists had been competing to see who could make the next breakthrough in space travel. Outer space became another frontier in the Cold War. Kennedy upped the ante in 1961 when he announced that the United States would put a man on the moon before the end of the decade. Much had changed by 1963, however. Relations with the Soviet Union had improved measurably. The Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 had been settled peacefully. A “hot line” had been established between Washington and Moscow to help avert conflict and misunderstandings. A treaty banning the open air testing of nuclear weapons had been signed in 1963. On the other hand, U.S. fascination with the space program was waning. Opponents of the program cited the high cost of the proposed trip to the moon, estimated at more than $20 billion. In the midst of all of this, Kennedy, in a speech at the United Nations, proposed that the Soviet Union and United States cooperate in mounting a mission to the moon. “Why,” he asked the audience, “therefore, should man’s first flight to the moon be a matter of national competition?” Kennedy noted, “the clouds have lifted a little” in terms of U.S.-Soviet relations, and declared “The Soviet Union and the United States, together with their allies, can achieve further agreements–agreements which spring from our mutual interest in avoiding mutual destruction.” …
What might have come of Kennedy’s idea is unknown–just two months later, he was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. His successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, abandoned the idea of cooperating with the Soviets but pushed ahead with the lunar program. In 1969, the United States landed a man on the moon, thus winning a significant victory the “space race.”
September 20, 1973, in a highly publicized “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match, top women’s player Billie Jean King, 29, beat Bobby Riggs, 55, a former No. 1 ranked men’s player. Riggs (1918-1995), a self-proclaimed male chauvinist, had boasted that women were inferior, that they couldn’t handle the pressure of the game and that even at his age he could beat any female player. The match was a huge media event, witnessed in person by over 30,000 spectators at the Houston Astrodome and by another 50 million TV viewers worldwide. King made a Cleopatra-style entrance on a gold litter carried by men dressed as ancient slaves, while Riggs arrived in a rickshaw pulled by female models. Legendary sportscaster Howard Cosell called the match, in which King beat Riggs 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. King’s achievement not only helped legitimize women’s professional tennis and female athletes, but it was seen as a victory for women’s rights in general.
September 20, 2012
Amish convicted in beard cutting attacks
On this day in 2012, 16 members of a dissident Amish group in Ohio are convicted of federal hate crimes and conspiracy for forcibly cutting the beards and hair of fellow Amish with whom they had religious differences. The government classified the ruthless attacks as hate crimes because beards and long hair have important religious symbolism to the Amish, who are known for their pacifism, plain style of dress and refusal to use many forms of modern technology.
The men and women convicted in the attacks belonged to a group of about 18 families who lived on an 800-acre farm owned by their leader, Samuel Mullet Sr., near Bergholz, Ohio, 100 miles southeast of Cleveland. Mullet, an Amish bishop and father of 18 children, masterminded the 2011 attacks against fellow Amish whom he viewed as enemies of his ultraconservative splinter sect. The five separate assaults involved nine people and spread fear through Amish communities in Ohio, home to an Amish population of roughly 60,000. The perpetrators—sometimes wielding shears meant for horse manes—restrained victims and in some cases hurt those who came to their aid. Afterwards, the attackers took photographs in order to further humiliate the injured parties.
The Amish typically resolve disputes on their own, without involving law enforcement; however, several beard cutting victims reported the attacks to police out of concern that Mullet was operating a cult. Mullet (who did not participate directly in the attacks) and a group of his followers were arrested in late 2011, and their case went to trial in late August 2012. It was the first case in Ohio that applied a landmark 2009 federal law—the Hate Crimes Prevention Act—which gave the government increased powers to prosecute crimes motivated by bigotry.
On September 20, 2012, the 66-year-old Mullet was convicted along with three of his sons, one of his daughters and 11 other followers. On February 8, 2013, a federal judge in Cleveland sentenced Mullet to 15 years in prison. His co-defendants received sentences ranging from one to seven years behind bars.
And finally…Meet Me in Heaven.
That’s what gravesite visitors read on Johnny Cash’s tombstone, just outside of Nashville. (Photo via BillyGraham.org)
And it’s what he urged audiences at numerous Billy Graham Crusades to do—in a manner of speaking.
“Meet Me in Heaven” is also the title of a song inspired by Cash’s brother, Jack, who died an untimely death—and could very well have planted the seed of the Gospel in his younger brother’s heart.
“Uncle Johnny was closest to Jack out of all the siblings,” said Mike Garrett, Cash’s nephew. “And Jack was a profound witness to the family, especially during the last week of his life.”
Jack suffered fatal injuries from a table saw accident in Dyess, Arkansas, where the seven Cash siblings grew up. Carrie, their mother, prayed fervently over all her children, but it was Jack—the third child and one ahead of Johnny in the birth order—who was the evangelist in the family.
He lived for a week following his accident. The family was gathered in his hospital room to hear his last words: “Can you see them? Can you see all the angels around? Meet me in heaven.”
Decades later, it is understood by Garrett to be one of the most pivotal events in the lives of the Cash family members: “My mother (Louise, Johnny’s older sister) said the room lit up—one of those kind of eerie but glowy’ moments right before he passed away.”
But it would be more than 20 years from that moment before the Man in Black would see the Light.
Those years would see the peaks of his fame and career success, but it would also see the dark valleys of his drug and alcohol addiction.
Through it all, his family never wavered. And they never stopped praying for him.
“We lived in Memphis, and Uncle Johnny would occasionally come through town since he lived in Nashville. Mother always witnessed to him, prayed for him and tried to talk to him about Jesus,” Garrett remembered.
“One day, in the mid 1960s, I came home from school and mom told me that Uncle Johnny had visited and told her he had become a Christian. He took her for a drive around town to tell her the story. She thought they were going to have a wreck, because he was so excited about his new faith in Christ. At that point, he understood what it really meant to follow Jesus. Grandma Cash’s prayers were answered.”
Cash’s faith remained intact, despite his struggle with old habits and encounters with demons from the past. In the early 1970s, Billy Graham got word of Cash’s relatively new faith and invited him to be a part of Crusade events.
Billy Graham also invited Cash into what became a friendship that only strengthened as the two men grew older. Together with their wives, they visited one another’s homes and spent vacations together at Cash’s property in Jamaica.
“I remember Uncle Johnny saying to me that he had started going to Billy Graham Crusades—that he would sing and share his testimony. He made that a top priority—a higher priority than concert tours,” Garrett said. (Photo via BillyGraham.org)
Cash once addressed his worldly struggles from the stage at a 1989 Crusade in his home state of Arkansas: “My personal life—my personal problems—have been widely publicized. There have been things said about me that made people ask, ‘Is Johnny Cash really a Christian?’ I take great comfort in the words of the Apostle Paul, who said: ‘What I will to do I do not practice, but what I hate I do. It is no longer I that do it, but the sin that dwells within me. But who will deliver me from this body of death? It is Jesus Christ, our Lord.'”
His Spiritual Legacy Lives On
While many may say Johnny Cash was instrumental in their music careers, numerous people have credited his witness to their faith in Christ.
There was a graveside memorial service in 2014 to dedicate a new grave marker at Johnny Cash’s burial site. As Garrett—a minister—conducted the ceremony, he opened up the floor for the 200 in attendance to share any thoughts or memories that would honor his uncle.
“I can’t tell you how many spoke up and said that he was instrumental in them coming to faith in Christ,” Garrett said. “And some of them said he helped them clean their lives up—pointed them toward getting off drugs and alcohol. And pointed them toward good, and away from evil.”
Cash, who spent much of his time ministering to those enslaved in substance abuse, said this of his ultimate purpose in life:
“Only someone who has had such a problem (as substance abuse) can have complete love and compassion and understanding for such people. I love drug addicts. And I love alcoholics. When Jesus said He was sent to heal the brokenhearted and preach deliverance to the captives, I believe these were some of the people He was talking about.
“If some lost, lonely person somewhere out there in a dirty bed, in a dark room, can see the light of Jesus Christ in me, then that is my reward.”
Today With Ray – Worldwide News 9/20/2015