The Rev. Billy Graham , the Christian evangelist whose worldwide crusades and role as adviser to decades of U.S. presidents made him one of the best known religious figures of his time, died Wednesday at age 99 at his home in Montreat, N.C, Todd Shearer of DeMoss Associates told Fox News.
Graham, who had been in ill health for a number of years, was regularly listed in polls as one of the “Ten Most Admired Men in the World.”
Shearer told Fox News that Graham died from “natural causes.”
His Christian crusades took him from the frenzy of Manhattan to isolated African villages and according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website, he preached to more people in live audiences than anyone else in history.
The BGEA put his lifetime audience at nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories, with “hundreds of millions more” viewing him on television, video, film and webcasts.
“My one purpose in life,” he said, “is to help people find a personal relationship with God, which, I believe, comes through knowing Christ.”
Graham was last hospitalized in 2011 at Mission Hospital in Asheville, N.C. for what was described as “evaluation and treatment of his lungs.” He was also hospitalized that year due to pneumonia.
William Franklin Graham Jr. was born Nov. 7, 1918 and raised on a dairy farm in Charlotte, N.C.
At 15, he made his personal commitment to Christ at a revival meeting in Charlotte. After attending Bob Jones College and the Florida Bible Institute, Graham was ordained a Southern Baptist clergyman in 1939.
In 1943, he graduated from Wheaton College, where he met fellow student Ruth McCue Bell, daughter of a medical missionary, who had spent the first 17 years of her life in China.
They married in August 1943 and had five children, 19 grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren.
Ruth Graham died in June 2007 after 64 years of marriage.
Graham vaulted to national prominence with his 1948 Los Angeles crusade, scheduled for three weeks and extended to eight.
Subsequent crusades in various cities around the globe also lasted far longer than scheduled – in New York, he ran nightly for four months at Madison Square Garden in 1957.
In 1950, Graham founded the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, based in Minneapolis, Minn. until it relocated to Charlotte in 2003.
Through the BGEA he conducted his weekly “Hour of Decision” radio program and published “Decision” Magazine as well as producing television programs for Christian networks.
In addition, Graham wrote 33 books, including his autobiography “Just As I Am.” His last book, “Where I Am: Heaven, Eternity, And Our Life Beyond The Now” was published in 2015.
In the 1960s, he ardently opposed segregation, refusing to speak to segregated audiences.
“The ground at the foot of the cross is level,” he once said, “and it touches my heart when I see whites standing shoulder to shoulder with blacks at the cross.”
Graham also was noted for consulting and praying with every U.S. president from Dwight Eisenhower to Barack Obama, who in April 2010 visited Graham at his mountaintop cabin in North Carolina. He also met with President Harry Truman in what was initially a contentious meeting after Graham spoke to the press, but the two men later viewed the episode as a humorous incident.
The White House later said Obama was “extraordinarily gratified” that Graham took the time to meet with him.
Graham presided over the graveside services for President Lyndon Johnson in 1973 and spoke at the funeral of President Richard Nixon in 1994.
On September 14, 2001 he led a national prayer service at Washington National Cathedral after the 9/11 attacks.
He and his wife were both awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1966.
But Graham found himself the target of criticism in 2002 and again in 2009 following the release of tapes of 1973 conversations he had with Richard Nixon that were critical of Jews.
He remained active well into his 70s but in recent years had been slowed by Parkinson’s Disease, which he’s had since 1992, and other medical problems.
His last crusade was in 2004. His elder son, Franklin, has long been expected to succeed his father as head of his ministry.
Shilpa Shetty’s millionaire husband Raj Kundra in court over porn case | Ents & Arts News
Raj Kundra, the millionaire husband of Bollywood superstar Shilpa Shetty, has applied for bail after being charged on distribution of porn charges in India.
Kundra was arrested on 19 July, along with 11 others, on suspicion of producing and distributing pornographic films, and was sent to judicial custody for 14 days.
He applied for bail, but his request was rejected at a court hearing.
In his application, Kundra, who married Shilpa Shetty in 2009, claimed the material which he allegedly disseminated through apps was not pornographic, and at the most it could be described as “lascivious”.
Publishing and screening “obscene material” in India is illegal, but watching it in private is permitted.
He also alleged that the police had not issued any notice before arrest, which is mandatory.
Police said Kundra had refused to accept the notice, and that he had refused to cooperate with the investigation.
Kundra’s case was registered in February, when police say allegations were made by a woman who said she was forced to take part in a pornographic film in return for an acting job.
In the latest development, Shetty has taken a number of news publications and social media companies to the High Court in Bombay, to stop the publication of what she claims is “incorrect, false, malicious, and defamatory information” against her.
She said the platforms were “smearing” her reputation by publishing “sensationalised” content against her.
A hearing was due to be held on Friday.
Shetty has been questioned twice so far by the police. She was also a partner in Raj Kundra’s company that created the HotShots app.
She resigned from the post last year. Police officials told reporters no evidence tying her to the alleged pornographic operation had been found and that she had no involvement in the case.
Briton among two killed in attack on tanker in Arabian Sea | World News
A crew member from the UK was among two workers killed in an attack on an oil tanker off Oman, the firm managing the vessel has said.
Zodiac Maritime said the incident, which it said was “suspected piracy”, had also resulted in the death of a crew member from Romania.
“We are not aware of harm to any other personnel. Our primary concern remains the safety and wellbeing of everyone on board and all those affected by the situation”, the company, which is based in the UK and owned by an Israeli family, said in a statement.
“Details of the incident are still being established and an investigation into the incident is currently underway. We continue to work closely with the UKMTO and other relevant authorities”.
The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UK MTO) – a part of the Ministry of Defence, which provides maritime security information – said it was a “non-piracy incident”.
It was not immediately clear how the Mercer Street tanker – a medium-sized, Japanese-owned tanker – was attacked or by whom.
The number of crew on board and their nationalities was also not immediately clear.
Iran has in the past been blamed for targeting tankers in the region with explosive devices – a threat that prompted the UK and its allies to send more warships to the Gulf to better protect the vital waterway.
The UK MTO said the vessel was about 152 nautical miles (280 km) northeast of the Omani port of Duqm when it was attacked on Thursday.
It gave no more details on the type of vessel, any cargo, to whom it belonged or about possible casualties.
Zodiac Maritime said in a statement: “We can confirm that there has been a suspected piracy incident onboard the product tanker M/T Mercer Street.
“The ship is a Japanese owned vessel managed by our UK based Zodiac Maritime Office. At the time of the incident, the vessel was in the northern Indian Ocean, travelling from Dar es Salaam to Fujairah with no cargo on board.
“We are in coordination and liaising with the UK MTO and other relevant authorities.”
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence said: “We are aware of reports of an attack on a merchant vessel off the coast of Oman. UK military headquarters in the region are currently conducting investigations.”
According to Eikon’s ship tracking, the Mercer Street was headed to Fujairah, a bunkering port and oil terminal in the United Arab Emirates, from Dar es Salaam, in Tanzania.
Iran and Israel have traded accusations over the past months of attacking each other’s vessels.
Malta ‘responsible’ for murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, inquiry concludes | World News
An independent inquiry into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has found the Maltese state responsible because it created a “culture of impunity”.
The journalist had been reporting on widespread corruption in Malta’s political and business circles when her car was blown up as she drove home in 2017.
The report concluded there was no evidence that the state was directly involved in her killing but said it “has to bear responsibility”
It said that Maltese authorities had created an “atmosphere of impunity” which was “generated from the highest levels in the heart of the administration of (the prime minister’s office) and, like an octopus, spread to other entities, like regulatory authorities and the police, leading to a collapse of the rule of law”.
The state was accused of failing to take measures to protect Ms Caruana Galizia‘s life, despite the threats she was facing.
The Caruana Galizia family said the report confirmed their belief that “her assassination was a direct result of the collapse of the rule of law and the impunity that the state provided to the corrupt network she was reporting on”.
“We hope that its findings will lead to the restoration of the rule of law in Malta,” they said.
Prime Minister Robert Abela, who took office last year, apologised to Ms Caruana Galizia’s family for the state’s “serious shortcomings” in a news conference and pledged to take lessons from the report.
Prosecutors have accused Yongen Fenech, a wealthy businessman linked to some government officials, of being behind the murder.
He was charged with allegedly organising and financing the bombing and alleged complicity in the killing. He has pleaded not guilty.
The investigation into Ms Caruana Galizia’s murder triggered mass protests and a political crisis in the country in 2019, with the reporter’s family alleging that Mr Fenech had ties to close associates of Malta’s prime minister at the time, Joseph Muscat, who eventually resigned.
One man has admitted to his role in carrying out the attack after he and two others were charged.
Another man has confessed to being a middleman and a further two are charged with providing explosives.
Addressing the inquiry’s findings, Mr Muscat said the arrests of the alleged hitmen and alleged mastermind a few months after the killing “disproves any impression of impunity that the alleged perpetrators may have had”.
He said “high profile crimes were committed” under previous governments but “nobody was ever prosecuted”.
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