Daily Briefing: May 18, 2017

Posted by    |    May 18th, 2017 at 6:23 am

T O P   N E W S

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller Named Special Counsel for Russia Probe (WSJ)

“Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a statement he was naming a special counsel due to the inquiry’s “unique circumstances.” The public interest, he said, “requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command.”
“The naming of Mr. Mueller, who served under presidents of both parties and is widely respected, could make it harder for partisans on either side of the aisle to question the results of the Russia investigation. With few limits on his mandate, Mr. Mueller could conduct a free-ranging, open-ended investigation with no deadline for completion.”

Nick Note: It’s Mueller Time. Here are 7 things to know about Robert Mueller. Here is everything you need to know about a special counsel. And here is something that has not been received well – the appointment of David Clarke to assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security.Clarke, the Milwaukee County Sheriff, made the announcement during a Wisconsin radio interview on Wednesday afternoon. He said he will be an assistant secretary at DHS’ Office of Partnership and Engagement, which coordinates outreach to state, local and tribal officials and law enforcement. His announcement was not received well and Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s joke did not land well. House Majority Leader McCarthy remarked a year ago during a meeting of top Republican leaders — including House Speaker Paul Ryan — that Mr. Trump was paid by Russian President Putin. This was obviously a joke by the tenor and tone of the tape, but the way certain outlets reacted to it provided evidence to Mr. Trump’s claim earlier in the day at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy graduation. “You will find that things happen to you that you do not deserve and that are not always warranted. But you have to put your head down and fight, fight, fight. Never, ever, ever give up….Look at the way I’ve been treated lately, especially by the media,” the president said. “No politician in history — and I say this with great surety — has been treated worse or more unfairly. You can’t let them get you down. You can’t let the critics and the naysayers get in the way of your dreams.” While Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy may disagree with Mr. Trump’s historic claim, the point is not lost. As of the late, Mr. Trump has been under the microscope and has been scrutinized greatly. However, when his exercise philosophy and ice cream proclivities are put on the same level as his meeting today with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to discuss funding for the peace implementation and the escalation of the Venezuelan drug war, something is off. No one is perfect but everyone can be given grace (Romans 3:23, Psalm 14, Romans 8:38-39). When everything is breaking news, we are the ones that begin to break.

Immigration arrests soar under Trump; sharpest spike seen for noncriminals (WaPo)

“Federal immigration agents are arresting more than 400 immigrants a day, a sharp leap from last year that reflects one of President Trump’s most far-reaching campaign promises.
“In Trump’s first 100 days in office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 41,318 immigrants, up 37.6 percent over the same period last year, the agency said Wednesday. Almost 3 out of 4 of those arrested have criminal records, including gang members and fugitives wanted for murder. But the biggest increase by far is among immigrants with no criminal records.”

Nick Note: “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow (Isaiah 1:17).”

Latest statistics: seminarians down in the USA and the world, priests worldwide in decline, catastrophic decline in women religious

“The summary notes that “In 2015 there is decline in the number of priests from the previous year, thus reversing the upward trend that characterized the years from 2000 to 2014.” To be exact, there were 415,656 priests in 2015, compared to 415,792 in 2014. (Looking into reports from previous years we find that there were 405,178 priests in 2000 — when the upward trend began again — 406,411 in 2005, 408,024 in 2007, 412,236 in 2010, and 414,313 in 2012.) “Tellingly the decline from 2014 to 2015, while slight, is attributed to the decrease in the number of priests in Europe (less 2,502) outweighing the increases in the rest of the world (up by 2,366). Although the Vatican report does not mention it, it is no secret that very large numbers of European and North American clergy are in the age range of late 70’s to 90’s, which explains why the official statistics for priests in Europe and North America have little to do with the actual (and much reduced) number of priests available for, or capable of, pastoral duties on the ground.”

Nick Note: Martin Luther had a high view of learning the biblical languages (which is often done in seminary). He wrote, “Let us be sure of this: we will not long preserve the gospel without the languages. The languages are the sheath in which this sword of the Spirit is contained; they are the casket in which this jewel is enshrined… If through our neglect we let the languages go (which God forbid!), we shall . . . lose the gospel.” As a graduate of a seminary, I am appreciative of seminary but know that seminary is not for everyone nor is it a prerequisite for ministry. As Luther championed so ardently during the reformation, we are a priesthood of believers (1 Peter 2:5-9).

Baylor football players raped women as ‘bonding experience’, lawsuit alleges (The Guardian)

“The latest lawsuit against Baylor University alleges that its football players took part in gang rapes as a team-bonding experience for new recruits. The suit was filed in federal court in Waco by a plaintiff identified as Jane Doe, who was part of a campus sports team.
“It states that in 2012 the woman went to a party hosted by unidentified Baylor football players at an off-campus apartment complex, and believes she was drugged. Then she was allegedly taken somewhere in a vehicle and raped by between four and eight players. She said she remembers hearing a cry: “Grab her phone! Delete my numbers and texts!”
“The lawsuit claims that such parties sometimes featured dog fights and sexual assaults that were recorded.”

Nick Note: This is absolutely tragic if true. In the United States, you are innocent until proven guilty. But in the biblical narrative, we read that Christians are held to a higher standard. “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation (1 Peter 2:12).”

C U L T U R A L   N E W S

Are Men With Beards More Desirable? (NY Times)

“Researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia decided to explore male facial hair to determine what role, if any, beards play in sexual attractiveness, masculinity and short- and long-term relationships.
“The answers, which were published in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology, varied depending on what the woman was looking for. Overall, the women said the sexiest men were those sporting heavy stubble, followed by short stubble. Men with full beards and clean-shaven men were rated the lowest on the overall sexiness scale.
“But when it came to choosing a long-term partner, a guy with whom a woman could have babies or settle in for the duration, the more facial hair the better.”

Nick Note: Anyone can grow a beard; I choose to grow whiskers. Am I bitter? Yes. Am I beardless? Since I was born. Nevertheless, beards may be more desirable, but we know from Scripture that beauty is fading – beards included (Proverbs 31:30). Our God reigns in Zion, shining forth in perfect beauty (Psalm 50:2). His beauty captivated the psalmist to want to sit and gaze at him all the days of his life (Psalm 27:4). We can’t be God, but we can be godly (1 Timothy 4:8, 2 Peter 3:11).

Companies need workers — but people keep getting high (WaPo)

“Job applicants are testing positive for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamine and heroin at the highest rate in 12 years, according to a new report from Quest Diagnostics, a clinical lab that follows national employment trends. An analysis of about 10 million workplace drug screens from across the country in 2016 found positive results from urine samples increased from 4 percent in 2015 to 4.2 percent in 2016. The most significant increase was in positive tests for marijuana, said Barry Sample, the scientist who wrote the report. Positive tests for the drug reached 2 percent last year, compared with 1.6 percent in 2012.”

Nick Note: Tom Petty is right in that I don’t know how it feels. Personally, I have never been turned down for a job “because I got high, because I got high, because I got high.” But many millennials have. 20 percent of millennialssmoke weed regularly. 68 percent of millennials say marijuana should be legal.In the Scriptures, we are forbidden to be intoxicated (Habakkuk 2:15, Galatians 5:21). A sign that the Spirit is at work in our life is through the manifestation of self-control (1 Peter 5:8).

The End of Forgetting (The Atlantic)

“While these apps and websites let us glimpse the past, other technologies could place us more squarely inside it. But although psychologists believe nostalgia is crucial for finding meaning in life and for combatting loneliness, we don’t yet know whether too much of it will have negative, even dystopian, effects.
“In a tantalizing example of how VR might be personalized in the future, Sarah Rothberg, an NYU researcher who specializes in virtual reality, has re-created her old house in “Memory Place: My House,” an Oculus Rift experience cum traveling art exhibit.
“After months of poring over old footage and photos, Rothberg was skeptical that the resulting experience would dislodge additional memories, but when she put on the Oculus Rift headset and walked across the virtual house’s parquet-floored hallway, something felt off: In the real house, a floorboard had been loose and rose at one end, though she had not thought about that fact in many years.”

Nick Note: Yesterday, you and The Beatles troubles may have seemed so far away, but due to technological advances, they will not be far away for long. If your troubles bring a sense of guilt and a feeling of shame, take heart. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).” “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more (Isaiah 43:25).”

N E W S   Y O U   C A N   U S E

‘THIS IS CRAZY’: Austin man sues date for texting during movie (Statesman)

“Brandon Vezmar, 37, of Austin filed the claim Thursday against his date. He is asking for $17.31, which was the price of the movie ticket to a 3D showing of “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2,” he told the American-Statesman Tuesday. The 35-year-old woman, reached by phone Tuesday, said she didn’t know about the claim against her. She asked that her name not be used. “Oh my God,” she said. “This is crazy.”

Nick Note: This guy was either an awful date or that was an awful movie. For what it’s worth, I saw the movie and enjoyed it. But what can we learn from this? As Christians, we should try to avoid the courts and also not let bitterness take root (1 Corinthians 6:1-8, Ephesians 4:31-32).

Rattlesnake bites Florida man who tries to kiss it (USA Today)

“A friend of the victim said that he had been drinking while handling the seemingly calm snake. But when he moved toward the reptile as if to kiss it, the snake bit him.”

Nick Note: No word on whether Sixpence None The Richer’s 1990s hit Kiss Me was playing in the background. Moral of the story: don’t drink and kiss (1 Peter 1:13).

Shopper wrestles deer to ground after it finds its way into a Walmart

“Shoppers in Wadena, Minnesota, were in for a surprise on Tuesday evening when a deer suddenly got the urge to do some shopping and wandered into a Walmart location.”

Nick Note: See it here. I’ve been to Walmart and seen people acting like animals, but never actually seen an animal…until now. To a certain degree, this is reminiscent of Paul’s adventures in 1 Corinthians 15:32.

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