newsviews.gif (3768 bytes)

Pastoral Bible Institute News
Audio MP3

PBI Annual Report for 2007-2008

“Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive” (Matthew 20:7). So said the householder to his eleventh-hour workers. We at the Pastoral Bible Institute are pleased to have completed another year of service in the Master’s vineyard.

The publication of this journal continues to be our main activity. Circulation remains about the same as it was a year ago. We recently made available audio recordings of this journal in the MP3 and CD formats, as well as cassette tape. About half the audio recordings being distributed are now on CD. The MP3 format is also available for free downloading from our web site: www.heraldmag.org This web site continues to be upgraded in different ways to stimulate interest. We are grateful to the many volunteers who make our activities possible. No one associated with the Institute receives a salary, a stipend, or remuneration of any kind.

At the end of last year the Institute cooperated with the Chicago Bible Students to send a promotional packet to over seven thousand names and addresses obtained from Internet advertising. A free three-issue subscription to The Herald was offered and 152 new trial subscriptions were requested.

This year for the first time we increased the size of one issue by 60% to enable us to thoroughly cover the topic. That issue is, of course, this one describing Israel in history and prophecy.

Occasionally we bring new publications not produced by the PBI to the attention of our subscribers. The “Life of Christ” workbook was one we publicized earlier this year.

Last year the U.S. Postal Service discontinued offering surface mail options for overseas mail. That change significantly increased our mailing costs because now everything must go by air. Approximately 60% of the press run of The Herald goes to non-U.S. addresses, and many of the literature requests we receive come from overseas. In spite of these added costs, the financial condition of the Institute remains strong.

At the end of this fiscal year, Carl Hagensick stepped down as a PBI director because of ill health. Carl has been the managing editor of The Herald and a key individual for all of the activities of the Institute for a long time. Although no longer a director, Carl remains an editor. We are pleased to welcome back Dan Wesol to the PBI’s Board of Directors. Although new to the incoming Board, Dan was a director in 2005 and 2006.

We do not know how much longer the Lord will grant us to labor in his vineyard, but we pray we will apply ourselves with energy and enthusiasm to the work he gives us to do.

Directors and Editors
of the Pastoral Bible Institute


World News

Religious

About 1,267 Catholic schools in the U.S. have closed since 2000 and enrollment nationwide has dropped by 382,125 students, or 14 percent, according to the National Catholic Education Association. Catholic schools have been closing since their peak in the 1960s, when there were 12,893 schools with about 5.25 million students. Today, there are 7,378 schools with 2.27 million students.

—Associated Press, 4/12/2008

Islam has now overtaken Roman Catholicism as the world’s largest religion, the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano reported on March 30. Roman Catholics now constitute 17.4% of the world’s population, while Muslims make up 19.2%. The number of Catholics has not changed much, while the number of Muslims continues to rise. However, when combining all Christian faiths, the number reached 33%.

—The Media Line, 3/31/2008

A thousand members who belong to Dalit Christian community will officially get reconverted into Hinduism in the town of Tirunelveli. Depending on the success of this re-conversion, Hindu Makkal Katchi also plans to re-convert 20,000 Christians in the Villupuram district. India has a total 24 million Christian population. Of this Dalit Christians constitute 15 million while tribal Christians account for 3 million.

—Times of India, 4/13/2008

The Catholic Church in England and Wales is launching a campaign to replace its retiring priests. The move comes as the church struggles to find replacements, despite a modest upturn in the number of new recruits in the past five years. The numbers of those willing to enter the Catholic priesthood has fallen steadily, to a low of 24 in 2003. The church says that due to the low intake of new priests, many diocese are having to rationalise their deployment of priests as a result.

—BBC, 4/13/2008

Social

With riots over food prices erupting around the globe, the United Nations said that the world was on the brink of a rapidly escalating crisis of food availability. Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon told finance and development ministers that the crisis could lead to wide-spread starvation and could topple governments.

—Associated Press, 4/18/2008

The Texas Petawatt laser reached greater than one petawatt of laser power on Monday morning, March 31, making it the highest powered laser in the world, Todd Ditmire, a physicist at The University of Texas at Austin, said. The laser has the power output of more than 2,000 times the output of all power plants in the United States. (A petawatt is one quadrillion watts.) The laser is brighter than sunlight on the surface of the sun, but it only lasts for an instant, a tenth of a trillionth of a second  The laser will be used to create and study matter at some of the most extreme conditions in the universe.

—University of Texas press release, 4/8/2008

Drinking 8 glasses of water daily does not mean better health for the typical person, says a new University of Pennsylvania study that contradicts a recommendation advanced by many experts. The study looked at 4 health benefits attributed to drinking 8 glasses of water daily; better toxin excretion, improved skin tone, reduced appetite and fewer headaches. It found no scientific basis for those claims.

—University of Pennsylvania, 4/7/2008

48%—the proportion of U.S. teenagers who did not buy a single CD last year, up from 38% in 2006.

 —TIME, 3/17/2008

Sprint Nextel Corp. and Verizon Wireless now have a feature that shows customers where their friends are with colored marks on a map viewable on their cellphone screens. Making this people-tracking possible is that cellphones today come embedded with Global Positioning System technology. Now, increasingly, the wireless industry is deciding that location tracking has so much sales potential that it’s worth the risks, so long as tight safeguards are in place. It’s a result of the convergence of GPS with another digital phenomenon: a generation of young people who are comfortable sharing a great deal of personal information on social-networking Web sites and eager for still more ways to stay connected.

—Wall Street Journal, 3/28/2008

In March, several drug experts testified at a congressional hearing called Generation Rx about the rising abuse of prescription and over-the-counter drugs among America’s youth. In 2006, 2.2 million people ages 12 and older said they started abusing pain relievers within the past year, with young adults ages 18-25 showing the greatest overall use of any age group, according to Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

—Wall Street Journal, 3/25/2008

20%—the proportion of U.S. high school juniors who smoke cigarettes.

—State of New York Dept. of Health, 3/25/2008

More than 1 out of every 100 U.S. adults is behind bars, according to a new Pew report. Violent crimes have dropped 25% since ’87, but harsher sentencing for lesser crimes has caused overcrowding and fueled a thriving private-prisons industry.

—TIME, 3/17/2008

From 1948 to 1999, the percentage of U.S. women in the work force climbed from 32.7% to 60%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since 1999, that five-decade increase has leveled off, with the percentage of women in the work force down slightly at 59.2% in January, 2008.

—Wall Street Journal, 3/14/2008

As more and more people drop their landlines, the wireless industry faces a challenge: poor cellular coverage within the home. To tackle it, they’re looking at selling customers boxes that in essence give them cell towers within the home. The devices make cell phones work like cordless phones, connecting to a home base station. Not only do these devices improve coverage indoors but also reduce traffic on regular, outdoor cellular towers.

—Associated Press, 4/2/2008

Over the past 30 years, in survey after survey, [Leicester University’s scientific survey of international happiness shows the Danes] consistently beat the rest of the world in the happiness stakes. Professor Kaare Christensen at the University of Southern Denmark … thinks he isolated the key to Danish anti-depression: “When we looked at [Danish] expectations, they were pretty modest,” he says. By having low expectations, one is rarely disappointed.

—CBS 60 Minutes, 2/17/2008

Political

Zimbabwe’s education system, once the best in Africa, is being demolished teacher by teacher. In 2007, 25,000 teachers fled the country, according to the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe. In the first two months of this year, 8,000 more disappeared. A staggering 150,000 teaching vacancies can’t be filled. In a country where the official inflation rate is 100,000%, teachers simply can’t afford to teach. The higher education system is equally troubled, starving Zimbabwe’s hospitals of doctors and the mining sector of engineers.

 —Los Angeles Times, 4/8/2008

Americans are more dissatisfied with the country’s direction than at any time since the New York Times/CBS News poll began asking about the subject in the early 1990s. According to the latest poll, 81 percent of respondents said they believed “things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track,” up from 69 percent a year ago and 35 percent in early 2002. There is now nearly a national consensus that the country faces significant problems.

—New York Times, 4/4/2008

The World Bank estimates that the Philippine government loses about P30 billion a year in corruption. [41.755 Peso = 1 U.S. Dollar] “By one estimate, an average of 20 percent to 30 percent of the value of every contract is lost to corruption or inefficiency” a draft report of the World Bank presented at the recent Philippine Development Forum 2008 revealed.

—Los Angeles Asian Journal, Vol. 18, 28; April 5-8, 2008

Governments across the developing world are scrambling in an attempt to forestall rising food prices and social unrest. Saudi Arabia cut import taxes on food, India scrapped tariffs on edible oil and maize, while Vietnam, the world’s third biggest rice exporter, said it would cut rice exports by 11 percent. The moves mark a rapid shift away from protecting farmers. Global rice prices have risen by a third this year and higher soybean costs have sparked protests in countries such as Indonesia and Argentina.

—Financial Times, 4/2/2008

Financial

The federal deficit through the first half of this budget year is at an all-time high. The Treasury Department reported Thursday that the deficit through the first six months of the budget year totaled $311.4 billion, up 20.5 percent from the same period a year ago.

—Associated Press, 4/10/2008

Across the country, consumers are increasingly relying on credit cards to stay afloat. The Federal Reserve reported that consumers had $951.7 billion in total revolving debt, most of it on credit cards; an increase of 8 percent over year-ago levels. Average balances on home-equity lines rose 9.5% in the first quarter of 2008 according to new data from Equifax and Moody’s. Borrowing is climbing quickest in the regions where house prices plunged most sharply.

—Wall Street Journal, 4/10/2008

Of those taxpayers in the U.S. who filed income taxes totaling almost $1 trillion in 2005, just half accounted for 97% of the Treasury’s total income tax revenue. The top 1% of taxpayers paid almost 40% of all income tax, a proportion that has jumped dramatically since 1986.

—Fortune magazine, 4/14/2008

U.S. newspapers suffered their worst drop in print advertising sales since industry record-keeping began 57 years ago, hammered by the housing-market slump and competition from the Internet. Revenue plunged 9.4% to $42.2 billion, from $46.6 billion in 2006, the Newspaper Assn. of America said.

 —Los Angeles Times, 3/29/2008

Visa Inc., the largest payment-card network, set a record for U.S. initial public offerings today by raising $17.9 billion, more than expected. The IPO ranks second in the world after the $22 billion debut in 2006 of Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. Visa and MasterCard are insulated from rising defaults and late payments because they don’t extend credit to cardholders. Banks that issue the cards take the credit risk.

 —Bloomberg.com, 3/18/2008

For the first time since it began keeping track in 1945, the Federal Reserve said that Americans last year owed more on their houses than they owned. About 35% of American homeowners do not hold mortgages and so the remaining 65% owe significantly more than 50% of their home’s value. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned that homeowners who have little or no equity in their homes are more likely to default and “walk away” from their mortgages.

—Associated Press, 3/6/2008

For the first time, the number of billionaires identified by Forbes magazine topped 1,000. On February 11, the counting day, the combined net worth of all billionaires was $4.4 trillion, up $900 billion from last year. The average billionaire is worth $3.9 billion. The average age is 61. The 20 richest people on the planet are worth a total of $661.4 billion.

—Forbes, 3/24/2008

The government announced that it had closed the most lucrative government auction in history as wireless companies bid more than $19 billion for the rights to radio spectrum licenses. The spectrum licenses are being surrendered to the government by broadcasters as they complete their conversion to digital television by early 2009. The auction was the largest in government history and will yield nearly twice as much as budget officials in Congress and the administration had estimated.

 —New York Times, 3/19/2008

Israel

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni will sign an agreement abolishing visa requirements for Russian nationals visiting Israel, and for Israelis traveling to Russia. The agreement is expected to come into effect 90 days after it is approved by the Russian and Israeli governments. In Israel, the main push for eliminating the visa requirement came from the Tourism Ministry, which estimates that abolishing visas would increase Russian tourism to Israel by about 100,000 people a year.

—Haaretz.com, 3/20/2008

More than 10 million people could be living in Israel by 2030, according to a report from the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics [CBS], and roughly 70% of them will be classified as Jewish. According to the CBS population projection, which is broken down into low, medium and high projections, between 9.6 million and 10.6 million people will be living in Israel by 2030, an increase of roughly 2–3 million on projections for 2010.

—BFP Israel Mosaic Radio, 3/25/2008

Iran announced they have started to install some 6,000 new centrifuges at their nuclear facility in Natanz, according to the Iranian news agency IRNA, twice the number of centrifuges reportedly running at Natanz in 2007 when they declared their capacity for industrial-scale uranium enrichment. Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najar said their missile capability, a concern to Israel, is entirely defensive in nature.

— BFP Israel Mosaic Radio, 4/8/2008

Hundreds of Israeli school children, some hailing from the rocket-battered town of Sderot, attended a ceremony honoring the Righteous Among the Nations in Krakow, Poland on April 17. The students were in Poland as part of a school-sponsored delegation to concentration camps in Poland, and were able to meet with two women who had hidden Jewish families during the Holocaust, effectively saving their lives. The trip to Auschwitz left them far more appreciative of the State of Israel and its existence in spite of omnipresent security concerns.

—Ynetnews.com, 4/11/2008