Chad President Idriss Deby has fired his armed forces chief of staff following the latest bout of unrest which culminated in a Boko Haram attack that left 23 dead.
Deby fired Brahim Seid Mahamat and his two deputies by presidential decree after six years in the post on Friday night just hours after the attack in the southwest of the country.
The soldiers were killed after coming under attack from jihadists in the early hours of Friday morning in the deadliest attack on the Chadian military by Boko Haram, which launched an insurgency in Nigeria a decade ago.
The unrest has spread to neighbouring Niger and Chad with the Boko Haram revolt to date claiming more than 27,000 lives and uprooting more than 1.7 million people.
Friday’s attack took place at Dangdala, on the northeastern bank of Lake Chad.
Thursday had seen another attack by the group kill eight civilians at Karidi in southeastern Niger in the Diffa region bordering Lake Chad, The area is one of the worst-hit areas for jihadist attacks in Niger.
Troops from Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria have been grouped into a multi-national force to fight Boko Haram.
Deby’s reorganisation of security — which included the suspension of the air force chief and his deputy — saw army chief of staff Taher Erda take the top job with a general from the northeastern region of Tibesti made chief advisor on national defence issues.
Erda is a Deby loyalist and former police chief who fought alongside the president before he took power in 1990.
The air force suspensions followed the discovery of debris from an helicopter which went missing more than a week ago in the north.
The sparsely populated, mainly desert region near the border with Sudan, Libya and Niger is volatile prone to attack from Chadian rebel groups based across the Libyan border.
In late January, France pounded Chadian rebels who had crossed back into their country from Libya to halt their incursion.
A shocking trending video making the rounds online has called for caution among Nigerians to be very careful when employing house maids. Two boys who disguised perfectly as girls were recently apprehended by the authorities after they were discovered to be what they are not.After they were arrested and taken to the station, the boys allegedly confessed that they pretended to be girls in order to be employed.
Imagine what they would have done to the female children left in their care.
They were asked to show their private parts (including the fake breasts) right there in the station as they were filmed.
A Facebook user who posted the video online urged people to thoroughly check housemaids before employing them.
The leisure time that we would normally spend on recovering from work has been traded for sheer data consumption.
In a recently published book, Human Virtuality and Digital Life, the philosopher Victor J. Krebs analyzes our understanding of the virtual as a prosthetic extension of our natural capacities, helping us do things better, faster, more efficiently. The virtual is prevalently thought of as an improvement — hence, augmented reality. Even virtual realities and metaverses, commonly thought of as mere copies of the already-existing universe in a non-material horizon, promise a better experience of it: they are (supposedly) more fun, more productive, more real.
However, the idea of the “virtual” was originally linked with potentialities instead. It was not so much about doing things “better,” but making things be what they are supposed to be. The medieval Latin virtualis, Krebs reminds the reader, derives from the original Latin virtus, meaning not necessarily “virtue” (as one might naturally assume) but rather “potency,” a word traditionally used in ancient Greek philosophy to designate the capacity things have to be or do something. A seed, for example, is potentially (virtually) a tree, and a tree is potentially (virtually) a log cabin. But what is a human being potentially?
A classic, ancient, major philosophical question asks why is there something rather than nothing. The noted (and most controversial) existentialist philosopher Martin Heidegger famously called it “the fundamental question of metaphysics.” Some later contemporary thinkers maintain virtual reality has made this question even more complicated by inaugurating an in-between space that is not something — yet not strictly “nothing” either. Augmented and virtual realities and metaverses, while not being things, are nevertheless something: they are “out there,” yet also “right here,” even “in here.” They have a kind of presence of their own. How can these intermediate “entities” affect our material lives, our understanding of the “real,” our online and offline behaviors, and our everyday decisions? How do they shape what we potentially (virtually) are?
Whereas most people would not be able (or willing) to spend $650,000 on a virtual mega-yacht, we do buy, consume, interact, and treasure digital objects. We carefully shape our internet profiles, keep (more or less tidy) photo albums on Facebook, “save” online game parties, and do our best to maintain a more or less coherent online persona. When done correctly, we get that sweet virtual (yet oh-so-real) reward we all crave: likes.In a recent interview with Sergio C . Fanjul published in El País, the South Korean-born Swiss-German philosopher Byung-Chul Han compares “likes” to “digital amens“: they are the ultimate “virtual” validation of who we are, what we say, how we look, what we do, who we are with, what we eat, etc. Likes permeate every single aspect of our (online) shared lives. Is that what we human beings potentially are, “likable” beings? It is true that being unpleasant or hateful for the sake of it is pointless. Can we say the same about being “likable”?
Smartphones, Han explains, play a dual role in our quasi-virtual existence: they are both digital workplaces and digital confessionals. As workplaces, smartphones have managed to displace idleness and contemplation. Han notes how contemporary human existence has been entirely absorbed by relentless, non-stop activity, thus making it easily exploitable: virtuality has made the workday virtually infinite, replacing leisure time with more activity. One is always available, as we all know, we keep our smartphones at hand, even (or especially) when we are not working. The leisure time that we would normally spend to recover from work (but also to enrich one’s life with a deeper experience of the world, of ourselves, of others, of nature, of God) has been traded for sheer data consumption. In Fanjul’s interview, Han elaborates on why we need to put a halt to information:
“We need information to be silenced. Otherwise, our brains will explode. Today we perceive the world through information. That’s how we lose the experience of being present. We are increasingly disconnected from the world. We are losing the world. The world is more than information, and the screen is a poor representation of the world. We revolve in a circle around ourselves. The smartphone contributes decisively to this poor perception of the world. A fundamental symptom of depression is the absence of the world.”
But also, being the cult objects of our digitally-driven lives, smartphones work “like a rosary and its beads,” our fingers relentlessly scrolling down or swiping right and left — a pattern “religiously” repeated, as if trading one habit for another, going from (inward) meditation to (outward) voyeurism. The main difference, Han claims, is we don’t use smartphones to ask for graces or forgiveness, but to call for attention instead. Whereas the Rosary is a contemplative, inward-oriented prayer, the kind of narcissistic exhibitionism/voyeurism that abounds on social media runs in an entirely opposite direction. This compulsive need to reach out does not necessarily translate, Han suggests, into a real relationship with others. It is, instead, the symptom of a collective depression.
“When we are depressed,” Han goes on, “we lose our relationship with the world, with the other. We sink into a scattered ego. I think digitalization, and the smartphone, make us depressed […] As a child, I remember holding my mother’s hand at the dentist’s office. Today the mother will not offer the child her hand, but a cellphone. Support does not come from others, but from oneself. That makes us sick. We have to recover the other person.”
I am edified by your desire for God’s will in your life. Regardless of what you may feel, the desire for God’s will is an infallible sign of grace working in your life. Hence, there is reason to rejoice and be encouraged! The reason for this is simple: no matter how clever, smart, or even holy we may think we are; we are always merely responding to God’s initiative. In the spiritual life, there are no original ideas!
You have asked me for some practical ways that can enable you to both hear and discover God’s presence more deeply in your life. What various holy men and women have discovered throughout history are not infallible means to make this occur, but rather a few tools that can help one become more receptive to God’s presence and action in their life. Here, I would like to simply mention two.
The first tool to help you encounter God more deeply in your life is praying with Scripture. If you are able, it would be ideal to spend 15-30 minutes a few days a week praying with the Gospels. Notice I said praying with the Gospels and not studying them! What does this mean? Practically it means selecting a relatively short passage from the Gospels (usually no more than 10-15 verses), reading it slowly, pondering the words or action that is occurring, and allowing yourself to enter into its content. As you read the passage, what strikes you as interesting, odd, or even attractive? How does Jesus seem to you in the passage: loving and compassionate or maybe even angry or distant? Perhaps, if your imagination allows you to, you can place yourself in the scene that you are pondering. What are you like before Jesus? What is he like before you?
Whether it is pondering the words of Jesus or imagining yourself in the Gospel scene, the most important thing is that you begin to discuss with Him whatever it is your experience of the passage might be. The whole purpose of praying with the Scriptures is not merely to have nice thoughts or beautiful meditations, but to engage in a dialogue with the One who is the very meaning of the Scriptures, the Lord Jesus Himself! In this heart-to-heart dialogue, you will learn more about God, yourself, and His will for you than any book or class could ever teach you.
The Word of God operates on various levels. There is a theological, historical, and even philosophical dimension to it that is both necessary and important. Another aspect of the Word of God, just as important as the others mentioned, is what I like to call its “living reality.” In other words, when we read and pray with the Scriptures we are not merely reading about history or theology, but we are encountering a Reality that is both alive and fresh. Regardless of how old certain events may be that we are pondering, they are for the believer, always an opportunity to encounter the Lord anew. As the Letter to the Hebrews affirms, “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
This simple practice of praying with the Gospels has had an enormous effect on my own life. When I was in college and trying to discern God’s will for my own life, it was this simple practice of praying with the Gospels that not only strengthened me in the faith but also brought about an enormous amount of insight and clarity concerning my own vocation. I can honestly say that during those solitary times of prayer with God’s word, I encountered the Living God and it was from that encounter that I discovered the path he was leading me on. May it be so with you as well!
The second tool to help you encounter God more deeply in your life is what I like to call, examining your life. Unfortunately, many people believe that God is separate from one’s own life and that the details and circumstances of life are somehow an obstacle to God. The truth is, if you really want to find God, the only place you have to look at is your life! Unfortunately, this usually only occurs in retrospect. Hence the need to occasionally take a step back and examine your life.
Perhaps once a week or monthly it might be helpful to ask yourself a few questions? What is it in your life right now that brings you genuine joy and peace? What in your life seems to cause you anxiety or fear? What is it that I sense the Lord is saying to me in prayer? Has there been an event, a time of prayer, a person, etc. that revealed God’s presence to me in a way that I wasn’t expecting or planning? If so, what do I believe the Lord was trying to say to me in that situation? In short, where do I sense the Lord’s presence in my life in the past few weeks and where do I not sense his presence? The whole point of this little exercise is twofold. First, to discover the Lord’s presence in our life and then orient our life, as best we can, to where God’s presence appears to be for us.
You mentioned to me a few weeks ago that every time you volunteer at the soup kitchen you experience a deep peace and joy welling up from within you. I was immediately struck by your words because this peace and joy do not appear to have a natural explanation. First, you often arrive at the soup kitchen after a long day of teaching, and most likely, what you really want to do is seek out some rest and relaxation, something which the soup kitchen does not provide. Second, some people might say this peace and joy that you experience comes from simply doing a good deed. However, your life is filled with good deeds. You spend all day teaching and often stay at school after hours to tutor those students who you perceive are struggling without any charge. Finally, volunteering at the soup kitchen provides absolutely no earthly incentive. You are not being paid at the soup kitchen, volunteering there offers you no career advancement opportunities, and most of the time much of your work is often unnoticed and unappreciated by both the poor who you serve and those whom you minister with.
It seems to me, then, that an important question arises. Where does the peace and joy that you experience at the soup kitchen come from? Is it the Lord that you are meeting there and who is perhaps drawing you into a deeper relationship with both him and the poor through this volunteering opportunity? Is he inviting you into a ministry with the poor, a religious vocation, or is the whole experience with the poor meant to serve as a catalyst for your own deeper conversion?
The fact is that neither I nor anybody else can tell you exactly what God is saying or doing in your life. My point in asking you these questions is merely meant to spark reflection on your part. In my own humble opinion, it appears that your experience at the soup kitchen is worth paying attention to, and at the very least, bringing it before the Lord in prayer. If there is something of the Lord more deeply at work in this, a prayerful openness to his movement here will only bring about a greater clarity and discernment in due time concerning the true nature of your experience.
In the meantime, be assured of my prayers for you Brian. Discernment is often a long process, not because God doesn’t want to help us, but because we are usually so slow in perceiving and responding to God’s work! When I have discovered God’s will in various areas of my own life and acted on them, I often sensed the Lord saying to me with a smile, “Welcome, Ihave been waiting for you here!” I pray that these simple tools of praying with Scripture and examining your life can aid you in discovering more deeply where God is already waiting for you!
A new study carried out by scientists at the Dr. Rath Research Institute compares the efficacy of combinations of plant extracts and micronutrients against the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and its Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Kappa, and Mu variants. Testing 5 different formulas on human lung cells, a combination containing vitamin C, N-acetylcysteine, and 7 specific plant extracts was found to be highly effective in simultaneously inhibiting multiple mechanisms of viral infection. Together with the recently established clinical evidence that vitamin C infusions can successfully combat COVID-19 even in its advanced stages, the scientists propose that the use of plant extracts could represent a new approach against SARS-CoV-2 and its various mutations.
Published in the European Journal of Microbiology and Immunology, the paper describes how it is foreseeable that control of the rapidly emerging mutations of SARS-CoV-2 will be compromised by the need to potentially develop new vaccines for every new variant, as well as by the related scientific, economic, and social consequences resulting from following such a strategy. As such, it is becoming increasingly clear that new approaches to controlling the pandemic are urgently needed.
In contrast to the risks of RNA- and DNA-based COVID-19 vaccines, the use of natural compounds provides an opportunity to simultaneously control a variety of mechanisms associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection with a high margin of safety. Earlier studies conducted at the Dr. Rath Research Institute have already identified the efficacy of plant-derived compounds against cellular mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 infectivity.
In this latest study, the institute’s scientists evaluated the efficacy of combinations of micronutrients and plant extracts against newly emerged mutated forms of SARS-CoV-2 and the activity of key enzymes involved in viral processing in human lung cells. The approach aimed at simultaneously inhibiting multiple cellular mechanisms involved in SARS-CoV-2 infectivity, thereby opening up new avenues towards global control of the pandemic.
The scientists found that all 5 of the plant extract and micronutrient combinations tested inhibited the binding of the virus to its angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) cellular receptor by at least 50 percent. Particularly impressively, a formula containing vitamin C, N-acetylcysteine, resveratrol, theaflavin, curcumin, quercetin, naringenin, baicalin, and broccoli extract was able to inhibit binding by 90 percent, as well as decrease the availability of ACE2 receptors on human lung cells and reduce the activity of viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp), an enzyme necessary for viral replication. The 9-component combination was effective against all 6 of the SARS-CoV-2 variants used in the study.
The scientists say that, with its aim of simultaneously controlling several cellular mechanisms associated with SARS-CoV-2 infectivity, their study represents a new and comprehensive approach to COVID-19. The results clearly show that when combined, the 9 plant extracts and micronutrients can significantly affect critical steps in the cellular infectivity of the original SARS-CoV-2 strain and its Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Kappa, and Mu mutations. Together with the clinical evidence that high-dose intravenous vitamin C greatly reduces mortality from COVID-19, the scientists conclude that the use of plant extracts could open up new avenues towards an effective global control of the pandemic.
File photo: A package of ivermectin tablets. (Natasha Holt/The Epoch Times)
By Nanette Holt January 26, 2022
A Florida doctor says families of loved ones hospitalized with COVID-19 are resorting to desperate measures when approved treatments have failed.
And when it’s not too late, some have seen tremendous success by sneaking medications prohibited by hospitals to patients, says Eduardo Balbona, an independent internist in Jacksonville.
He’s helped dozens of seriously ill patients recover using ivermectin and other drugs and supplements not officially approved in the treatment of COVID-19, he says.
Hospitals receive payments from the federal government for treating patients with COVID-19. But those payments are tied to their use of approved treatments only, as outlined in the CARES Act. When there’s nothing left to try under those protocols, families naturally research alternatives, Balbona says, often learning about treatments touted by independent physicians around the country.
Hoping to try anything that might work, families around the country have filed lawsuits asking judges to intervene.
In some cases, judges have ordered hospitals to allow the use of other treatments, such as ivermectin. Some of those seriously ill patients have recovered. In other cases, judges have sided with hospitals and declined the families’ requests to try.
Meanwhile, independent physicians like Balbona watch helplessly, feeling that when families ask, they should be allowed to try medications they believe can turn critically ill patients around. But independent doctors often have limited hospital privileges and may be banned from seeing their own patients in some hospitals.
That was the case recently for Balbona, who was contacted by a worried wife after she read in The Epoch Times about his involvement in another family’s lawsuit seeking to try his recommendations.
Based on what the woman told him, Balbona said he felt strongly her husband could recover if treated with the regimen he prescribes for seriously ill COVID-19 patients. The treatment protocol he follows, with slight modifications based on each patient’s needs, was developed by the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance.
“The husband was very ill,” Balbona said. “He’s in his 50s, a big strong guy. She called me desperate because they gave him remdesivir [in the hospital] and she made them stop it, and he started getting worse and worse. And his oxygen demand went up.”
By the time she called Balbona for help, her husband needed 60 liters of oxygen per minute. That’s too high to manage at home, even with rented medical equipment, Balbona said.
“If you can get them down to 40 or 50 [liters per minute] you can do high-flow oxygen at that level,” Balbona told The Epoch Times. “That’s a lot of oxygen.”
He said he promised he’d try if her husband improved enough to go home. And then he’d take over managing his care. Meanwhile, he said, he gave her prescriptions, so she could collect the medications she’d need at home. That was on a Friday.
He learned later that she’d filled the prescriptions, took the medications to the hospital, and gave them to her husband. By Tuesday, the man was discharged and fully following the protocol Balbona prescribed. A few days later, he was off the oxygen. Now, he’s recovering, Balbona said. But they’re afraid to share their good news publicly.
“The people who snuck in the ivermectin… they are scared to death,” Balbona said. “She is sure that the government is going to find out who she is” and possibly arrest her for giving medications not approved by the hospital.
He said she told him, “I did it. I knew it was wrong. I don’t know what the penalties are. What could they do to me?”
And that’s the real crime, Balbona believes.
In New Hampshire, lawmakers now are considering legislation that would make the state the first in the country to make Ivermectin available as an over-the-counter medicine, and sanction it as a protected treatment for COVID-19. Similar bills in three other states have failed.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Leah Cushman (R) is a registered nurse, who told The Epoch Times, “I have absolutely no doubt lives will be saved if human grade ivermectin was available to COVID patients.”
Two doctors testified about her proposed bill, warning the legislation could lead to dangerous side effects for people who use the drug. But Cushman believes she’ll have the votes to keep the bill moving toward becoming law.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the use of ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19, though the drug is used in humans to treat a variety of conditions.
The FDA has not responded to a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA) asking for details about any reports of side effects related to the use of ivermectin — formulations for animals and humans —to treat COVID-19. The agency also has not responded to a FOIA request for details about clinical trials and when the drug could reach the stage when its use under the Right To Try Act could be allowed.
Studies about the safety and efficacy of using ivermectin in the treatment for COVID-19 have led to all or part of 22 countries approving its use. But in the United States, doctors who rely on payments from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services aren’t allowed to use it.
Over a hundred Catholic officials, including many priests, have publicly declared themselves to be LGBT and have demanded the Church “end discrimination and exclusion” of people who identify that way. This isn’t surprising, given that last May, priests in nearly a hundred German Catholic churches defied the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and proceeded to bless same-sex unions.
“I don’t want to hide my sexual identity any more,” Uwe Grau, a priest in the diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, was quoted on the group’s website as saying.
“We are part of the church,” added Raphaela Soden, who works in pastoral care for young adults and identifies as queer and non-binary. “We always have been. It’s time to finally make it clear that we exist and how wonderfully queer the body of Christ is.” The statement called for “free access to all pastoral vocations”, and an end to what the signatories called a “system of concealment, double standards, and dishonesty” surrounding LGBT issues. “Entering into a non-heterosexual relationship or marriage must never be considered a breach of loyalty and, consequently, an obstacle to employment or a reason for dismissal,” they said.
As Catholics, we should be compassionate toward those who struggle with same-sex attractions, but we should also challenge people who have adopted an obstinate or rebellious attitude toward God and his Church.
Notice that these Catholics are not “coming out” in the sense of asking for mercy as they struggle to live chastely in accord with the Church’s teachings. There is no acknowledgment of sin—like what we see when St. Paul confesses, “I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Rom. 7:15, 22-24).
Instead, this is a celebration of disordered sexual attractions and a demand that the Church do the opposite of what Paul advised in Romans 12:2 and conform itself to this world and its sinful ways. So how should we respond?
First, we should not encourage this kind of attitude through terms like gay Catholics. This reinforces the idea that any sexual desire is a core part of a person’s identity that should be recognized and even celebrated. According to the CDF:
The human person, made in the image and likeness of God, can hardly be adequately described by a reductionist reference to his or her sexual orientation . . . . [The Church] refuses to consider the person as a “heterosexual” or a “homosexual” and insists that every person has a fundamental identity: the creature of God, and by grace, his child and heir to eternal life.
When priests with same-sex attractions say they don’t want to “hide their identity,” they have failed to understand both their true identity as children of God and their identity as spiritual fathers to God’s children. Given that nearly all Latin-rite priests—meaning nearly all priests—have taken vows of celibacy, why would their sexual attractions be a part of their public identity? Celibate priests with opposite-sex attractions wouldn’t consider their prudent decision not to publicly talk about their sexual attraction to women to be a “denial of their identity.” Celibate priests with same-sex attractions should have the same attitude.
Second, we should strip away euphemisms and talk about blunt realities. A non-heterosexual relationship or “marriage” refers to the sin of sodomy or to sodomy that the State erroneously calls a marriage. If a person can be in good standing with the Church in these kinds of relationships, then why not defend the rights of adulterers or polygamists to enter into “non-monogamous relationships”?
Third, we should distinguish between just and unjust discrimination. The Catechism says with regard to people who identify as homosexual that “every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided” (2358). Firing someone from a lay position merely because he has a same-sex attraction could be unjust discrimination, just as it could be unjust to fire someone merely because he struggles with racist thoughts. But it’s an entirely different matter when a person publicly makes a disordered or evil attraction a core part of his identity, and he wants others to praise it, and he engages in that evil behavior, and he even encourages others to do the same.
Keep in mind that there are cases where it can be just to discriminate against a person because of his attractions rather than his actions. A Catholic university might require a live-in residential adviser for an all-female dorm to be female herself to avoid occasions of sin (or at least awkwardness) and even the appearance of impropriety. Likewise, the CDF has said that those with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” may not be admitted to the priesthood, which makes sense, given the psychological criteria outlined by the CDF and the practical difficulty of priests living and working together in close quarters.
Finally, we must remember that the burden of having disordered attractions is like other crosses we humans carry through no fault of our own—things like sickness, temptations to drugs or alcohol, coping with the death of a loved one, dealing with spousal abandonment, or the need to care for a disabled family member. In these and all cases of trial, our response must be to turn to God and away from the idea that following a temptation to sin will be easier.
This means the cross is not incidental to our call to follow Christ, but rather an essential part of it. That’s why Jesus said, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). If anyone should be modeling that for Catholics, it should be priests, who stand before a cross every day and re-present Christ’s one sacrifice on the altar.
And if they are not willing to do that, then competent ecclesial authorities should compassionately offer them spiritual rehabilitation and prudently prevent them from leading the faithful astray.
LIFE is full of paradoxes. Sometimes we move forward by backing off, performing while being reflective, being an extrovert and an introvert, leading and following, confident and humble. Paradoxes are not to be solved but managed. It is a continuum to move along. It requires a heightened level of awareness. Leaders bring clarity to these paradoxes.
In The Eight Paradoxes of Great Leadership by Tim Elmore, he covers eight such paradoxes of uncommon leaders. In such volatile times, embracing these paradoxes is critical for effective leadership.
Leadership is seldom easy, but today it affords us the challenge of collaborating with a more educated, more entitled, more savvy population that has greater expectations of satisfaction and rewards than in past generations. Uncommon leaders stand out because they are able to juggle seemingly contradictory traits to lead such people.
Elmore introduces many great concepts and (sometimes very moving) stories to illuminate these paradoxes. He gets into the nitty-gritty of what these paradoxes look like or how they are practiced in everyday situations.
I’ll just give you a flavor of each, so you get the idea of where Elmore is headed with these paradoxes and how you might begin to recognize them in your own leadership.
Paradox #1: Uncommon Leaders Balance Both Confidence and Humility
Leading today requires combining these two attributes—confidence and humility. Reality changes so quickly, leaders cannot become arrogant, but remain in a learning posture. At the same time, team members long for their leaders to inspire them with confidence.
Confidence plus humility furnishes the energy of certainty and the flexibility of teachability to create synergy in partnerships.
Confidence believes you can do the job. Cockiness believes it will be easy.
Paradox #2: Uncommon Leaders Leverage Both Their Vision and Their Blind Spots
Vision gives leaders (and teams) a direction, but blind spots are often the very motivator that enables them to approach an idea in an unconventional way—and believe they can pull it off. Most new ventures require a leader to possess a clear target they want to hit. At the same time, their inability to see all the obstacles or challenges ahead of time helps them to maintain their energy as they try to hit their target. In short, leaders usually have to see something and fail to see something to reach their goal.
When Elmore talks about blind spots, he’s talking about rookie smarts. He’s not talking about the blind spots of character that lead us to the wrong choices. Regarding these kinds of blind spots, he notes, “Our blind spots are often found conspicuously close to ur strengths.”
Paradox #3: Uncommon Leaders Embrace Both Visibility and Invisibility
In the beginning of any mission, most people need a visible leader, demonstrating what to do and clarifying the goal. Over time, however, these people need the leader to step aside to let them realize their potential.
These people lead—and then get out of the way. In short, they embrace the paradox of being both visible and invisible at the right moments.
Paradox #4: Uncommon Leaders Are Both Stubborn and Open-Minded
Leaders will never reach a goal without being strong-willed. Without a stubborn will, obstacles will stop them. At the same time, they’d be naïve to think they have all the answers at the beginning of a venture. They must be open to voices of counsel; to flex and to adapt to changing realities.
Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski said it best, “The most incredibly interesting thing about being a leader is what adjustments you make and how to make them while keeping your core principles alive and well.”
If we’re going to be open-minded leaders, we must possess both emotional security and a strong will. We must be emotionally secure enough to digest contrary ideas and strong-willed enough to mote merely swallow every novel idea just because it’s new.
Paradox #5: Uncommon Leaders Are Both Deeply Personal and Inherently Collective
People need big-picture vision from their leader, someone who grasps the gravity of what’s happened, and the steps required to respond to it. At the same time, people need a leader who empathizes with their personal journey; someone who understands how the struggle feels to individuals, and who articulates the vision with a personal touch.
Elmore adds, “Wise leaders seemed to understand their people and offered three gifts:” context to problems, applications (practical action steps), and belief (hope for a better future).
Paradox #6: Uncommon Leaders Are Both Teachers and Learners
In our day of unceasing change, leaders are forced to be teachers, and organizations are forced to adapt. To do this, however, these leaders must first and foremost be lifelong learners, always adapting and never resting on what they know. Leaders are both receptacles of information and libraries of information.
The prerequisite for remaining a learner while you are a teacher is emotional security. If you’re an insecure leader, you’ll soon begin defending your past ideas; you’ll feel threatened or even displaced if someone has a better solution than yours.
Paradox #7: Uncommon Leaders Model Both High Standards and Gracious Forgiveness
The paradox of this uncommon leader is their propensity to forgive people. It’s not that they lower their standards. It’s simply that they’re able to absolve a team member who acknowledges they failed to meet the standard and chooses to improve. Forgiveness isn’t approving what happened. It’s choosing to rise above it. Forgiveness does not remove the past, but it does expand the future.
When team members know their leader holds high standards, yet is willing to forgive mistakes, it frees them to push themselves, take appropriate risks, and initiate when they might normally hold back and play it safe.
Paradox #8: Uncommon Leaders Are Both Timely and Timeless
Uncommon leaders in the twenty-first century must balance this very difficult paradox. First, they must embrace and advance timeless principles that make for lasting success, values that have stood the test of time and worked in all generations and in every context. At the same time, these leaders must leverage culturally relevant methods and futuristic resources.
Their core identity is ageless, but their mode of operation is cutting edge and sets the pace for others. They’re passionate to pursue future opportunities, but in their appetite for progress, they never leave behind core virtues, values, and disciples.
Many of the greatest women of the Bible have Hebrew names which contain important insights into their audacious characters. Tamar is one such woman. Twice widowed, she cleverly dupes her father-in-law, Judah, into giving her two sons – one of whom will go on to become the ancestor of King David (Genesis 38). In Hebrew, Tamar (תמר) means“date palm.” It is one of Israel’s most sacred trees and a strong symbol of this woman’s fearlessness.
A Fearless Biblical Mother
Jochebed, the mother of Moses, is an iconic Biblical heroine. She bravely hid her infant, despite Pharoh’s decree to kill all Hebrew baby boys, until she could present him to Pharaoh’s own daughter for safekeeping. The name Jochebed (יוכבד) means “the Lord (YHWH) is glorious (kavod)” – a proud declaration of faith in the One God of Israel.
A Valiant Military Tactician
Deborah, the prophetess and judge, is a rare example of a woman with a major public leadership role in the Hebrew Bible. Despite the highly patriarchal nature of society around her, Deborah brilliantly led the armies of Israel to a major military victory over the mighty Canaanites (Judges 4). Deborah (דבורה) means “bee” in Hebrew – a perfect encapsulation of the deadly sting she delivers to the enemy.
Discover the Power of Biblical Names
From the Bible’s very first woman – Eve, “the mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20) to the very last – “the woman clothed with the sun” (Revelation 12:1), the Bible is full of fascinating female heroines. Enroll in our live, online Biblical Hebrew course today and learn how significant names are in Hebrew to understand the characters from Scripture.
The Chinese regime has likely understated the country’s COVID-19 death rate by as much as 17,000 percent, in a systematic data-suppression campaign to sustain its political image, according to a U.S. analyst.
That would put the number of COVID-19 deaths in China at around 1.7 million rather than 4,636, the two-year cumulative death figure that the Chinese authorities have maintained. That’s 366 times the official figure.
Those findings, made by George Calhoun, director of the quantitative finance program at Stevens Institute of Technology, were based on data as of January generated by a model developed by The Economist.
A vast majority of China’s officially recorded deaths came from Wuhan during the first three months of the pandemic, with only hundreds more reported in the rest of the country since then.
The Chinese regime only reported four additional deaths from April 18, 2020, ranking China as having the world’s lowest COVID-19 death rate, which Zhong Nanshan, the Chinese epidemiologist overseeing China’s outbreak response, boasted about just last week.
But that jaw-dropping data point—hundreds of times lower than that of the United States—gave Calhoun pause.
“That’s impossible. It’s medically impossible, it’s statistically impossible,” Calhoun told NTD, a sister media outlet of The Epoch Times.
“Remember, in 2020, there was no vaccine, there was no treatment,” he said. “So you had an unprotected population that has shown zero COVID deaths, even though they’ve had tens of thousands of cases.”
Curating public records and previous research reports, and analyzing the regime’s pattern of hushing up scandals in the past, Calhoun arrived at a conclusion that to him seems obvious: China has made its “zero-COVID” policy a political objective, and is systematically falsifying data to prop up the claim.
“Somebody put a message out at the end of the first quarter in 2020 and said, ‘Okay, we want to see zero COVID. That’s our policy.’ And it became zero COVID,” he said.
The first “smoking gun” is a sudden drop in COVID-19 deaths since April 2020 from mainland China after a “raging” rate of infection, Calhoun said.
From April 18, 2020, to Jan. 8, 2022, more than 35,000 cases were reported in mainland China (excluding asymptomatic cases), according to official data from China’s National Health Commission. Only four deaths were recorded over the same period.
By comparison, Hong Kong, which counted about half as many COVID-19 infections over the period, has reported 213 deaths to date.
The case fatality rate (the proportion of those infected who died) in Wuhan during the first three months of the pandemic averaged around 7.7 percent, more than five times that of the United States and four times the world average.
Two scenarios are possible: either the virus was “far more deadly in early 2020 in Wuhan than anywhere else, at any other time,” or alternatively, the official infection numbers from China were too small by a factor of three or four, Calhoun said.
Over the subsequent 20 months, there’s been a consistent lack of COVID-19 data from China. As of September 2021, China has become the world’s only country that hasn’t provided complete data on excess mortality—unexplained deaths beyond normal trends that can offer a crude estimate of uncounted COVID deaths, a survey from the University of Washington shows.
The Economist model seeks to make up for that data gap. Based on the model, Calhoun said China’s excess mortality was off by about 17,000 percent. This discrepancy, he said, even surpasses those by countries mired in large-scale civil unrest, such as Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Venezuela. Venezuela, the highest of the four, has an estimated excess COVID-19 death ratio of 1,100 percent.
Undercounting virus deaths is widespread across countries. Based on The Economist’s model, the United States’ official tally is short by about 30 percent. But China’s case is extreme.
“They are through the roof,” Calhoun said of the discrepancy between China’s official figures and the estimated true death toll.
“Something’s driving that.”
While the virus might not be all to blame for the jump, tight-lipped Chinese authorities have offered few clues as to what else might have happened.
Calhoun’s estimate coincides with anecdotal evidence from local residents, troves of internal documents leaked to The Epoch Times, and research studies into the impact of the virus in China, all of which indicate that the official figures have been grossly understated.
During the early months when the pandemic first emerged in Wuhan, some of the city’s funeral home workers told The Epoch Times they were working nonstop to cremate bodies. In March, thousands of ash urns were delivered to one of the crematoriums, when the official death number was over 2,000. The authorities raised the fatality figure by 50 percent a month later, attributing the gap to administrative inefficiencies.
A study published in The Lancet last March said that as many as 968,800 people in Wuhan had antibodies by April 2020, which would mean they had been infected by the virus and developed immunity.
The data inconsistencies aren’t limited to Wuhan. During a two-week period in February 2020, an internal document from Shandong health authorities showed that close to 2,000 people had tested positive for the virus, but only 755 infections were publicly recorded.
Leaked documents suggest that the regime has continued to deem virus control a political task.
In files recently obtained by The Epoch Times, a top Chinese official of Shaanxi Province, where the virus-hit Xi’an is the capital, ordered the “toughest measures” to be put in place to block the virus’s further spread from Xi’an. With the Beijing Winter Olympics coming up, a spillover would create “systemic risk” and “smear the national image,” the document reads.
The Biden administration’s controversial open border policies are slamming the overwhelmed U.S. Immigration Court system, creating the largest backlog of cases in history. A new report issued by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) reveals that the backlog is “growing faster than ever, burying judges in an avalanche of cases.” At the end of December pending cases reached a shocking 1,596,193, according to government figures obtained by TRAC under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). To put things in perspective, researchers point out that if every person with a pending immigration case gathered, it would surpass the population of Philadelphia, the nation’s sixth-largest city. Migrants with open cases will wait nearly five years for a court decision determining their status in the U.S.
While the system has seen backlogs under past administrations of both political parties, it has never experienced anything this dire. In fact, the TRAC report states that “a disturbing new trend has emerged during the Biden administration that demands attention: since the start of the Biden administration, the growth of the backlog has been accelerating at a breakneck pace.” For instance, at the start of the George W. Bush administration, the backlog stood at 149,338 and it grew “substantially” under Barack Obama. The problem “only accelerated” under Donald Trump but nothing compares to Biden. In recent months the rate of backlogs in the nation’s Immigration Court system has “exploded,” the TRAC report states, supporting the assessment with government data. Between October and December 2021, the quarterly growth in the number of pending Immigration Court cases shattered records.
In that short period, the backlog increased by nearly 140,000 cases, the government records obtained by TRAC show. “Even during the most dramatic growth in pending cases during the Trump administration, the largest 3-month increase in the backlog only once approached 100,000 in the June-August 2019 period,” the report says. The backlog fluctuated up and down in the following year until it skyrocketed in the last few months of 2021 under Biden. Researchers call it a “dramatic acceleration in the growth of the backlog.” The alarming government figures suggest that Immigration Courts “are entering a worrying new era of even more crushing caseloads— all the more concerning since no attempt at a solution has yet been able to reverse the avalanche of cases that Immigration Judges now face,” the TRAC report states.
The COVID-19 pandemic has played a role in the crisis because it caused a partial court shutdown, but researchers found that the key problem is the “recent deluge of new cases filed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).” Immigration enforcement has been limited dramatically under the Biden administration, which has also issued a policy to allow more new immigrants into the U.S., thus the unprecedented and expanding backlog. The dramatic increase in court cases began around June and will inevitably get worse if the administration does not make changes. “If the current pace during the first quarter of FY 2022 of newly arriving Notices to Appear (NTAs) continues, the Court will receive 800,000 new cases – at least 300,000 more than the annual total the Court has ever received during its existence,” TRAC estimates.
The U.S. Immigration Court system operates under the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), which functions under the attorney general. There are 60 immigration courts throughout the nation and around 580 judges that conduct removal hearings or determine if a migrant can remain in the U.S. In its 2022 budget submission to Congress, the DOJ requests $891,190,000 for the EOIR. In the document, the agency lists “increased immigration flows,” particularly family units, unaccompanied alien children and putative asylum seekers from Central America, among the EOIR’s biggest external challenges.