June 16, 2017

Posted by    |    June 16th, 2017 at 6:48 am

T O P   N E W S

Rep. Scalise remains in critical condition after surgery (USA Today)

“House Majority Whip Steve Scalise remained in critical condition Thursday evening after undergoing a second surgery to deal with internal injuries and a broken bone in his leg following the shootout at an Alexandria, Va., baseball field, the hospital said.
“The Congressman will require additional operations, and will be in the hospital for some time.” the Medstar Washington Hospital Center said in a statement, adding that Scalise has “improved in the last 24 hours.”

Nick Note: Lee Greenwood is Proud to be an American and when injured Capital Police officer David Bailey threw out the first pitch last night at the Congressional Baseball Game, I think everyone from sea to shining sea was even more proud to be an American. Watch it here. Before the game, both teams gathered around 2nd base (the position that Scalise plays) to pray. Senator James Lankford commented that these bipartisan prayers happen more than you might imagine. Speaking of imagining, President Trump’s tweets yesterday insinuated that some might be imagining regarding allegations of his collusion with Russia. In a series of tweets, Mr. Trump referenced Hillary Clinton twice and then suggested we are witnessing the single greatest witch hunt in American political history. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation continues to expand. Yesterday, officials reported that Mueller is interviewing senior intelligence officials as part of a widening probe that now includes an examination of whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice. And late last night, the probe expanded to now include White House adviser Jared Kushner’s “finances and business dealings.” Also happening late last night was news that Vice-President Mike Pence has hired an outside lawyer to handle his response to inquiries into possible ties between President Trump’s campaign and Russia. Mueller isn’t the only one dealing with Russia. Yesterday, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill to expand sanctions on Moscow and wrest more control of Russia policy from the Trump administration. The bill was largely bipartisan, passing 98-2. Today, President Trump will issue a policy directive aimed at scaling back some of the changes made by former President Obama to U.S.-Cuba policy, taking aim at tourist travel and transactions with Cuba’s military. Vice President Pence will return to his home state to raise money for his political action committee. As we begin to gain some distance from the tragedy on Wednesday, political disagreements will remerge. But disagreements are not a bad thing, however disparaging character is. No one expects everyone to agree on everything, but we must keep the civil in our civilization (Luke 6:31). Peggy Noonan of the WSJ is right in that the media have a role to play in this. “By indulging their and their audience’s rage, they spread the rage…. Rage and sanctimony always spread like a virus, and become stronger with each iteration…. Do your part, take it down some notches, cool it. We have responsibilities to each other.”

Russian Military Says It Might Have Killed ISIS Leader (NY Times)

Russia’s military said on Friday that it was looking into whether a Russian airstrike in the Syrian desert killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-declared caliph of the Islamic State, in what would be a major military achievement. The Defense Ministry said that the Russian Air Force struck a meeting of Islamic State leaders on May 28 outside Raqqa, Syria, the group’s de facto capital, possibly killing Mr. Baghdadi, one of the world’s most wanted terrorists. Col. Ryan S. Dillon, a spokesman for the United States-led military coalition fighting the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, said in an email: “We cannot confirm these reports at this time.”

Nick Note: These reports have not been confirmed but what has been confirmed is that the Pentagon will send nearly 4,000 additional troops to Afghanistan in an effort to turn around a war that commanders have described as a stalemate. Earlier this week, President Trump provided his defense secretary, Jim Mattis, with the authority to determine troop levels in Afghanistan. The struggle against extremism continues and hopefully our prayers continue as well. Prayers for protection and changed hearts (Ephesians 1:18).

Iraqi Christians targeted for deportation face ‘death sentence’ in Iraq, lawyers say (The Guardian)

“Iraqis are being swept up in immigration raids across the US and targeted for deportation by the Trump administration, in a crackdown attorneys and advocates described as a “death sentence” for members of Iraq’s Christian minority.
“US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) arrested more than 200 Iraqi nationals over the week who have been the subject of deportation orders following criminal convictions or pending criminal charges.”

Nick Note: Large segments of the biblical narrative take place in Iraq but Christians increasingly have to find another place to live other than Iraq if they want to survive. In 2003, Iraq boasted an estimated 1.3 million Christians. Now, leaders put that number at fewer than four hundred thousand. This is largely due to extremist attacks and rule. What should the US do concerning the story? Or better yet, what should the Christian do? In the biblical narrative, Christians are encouraged to not oppress the foreigner (Exodus 23:9), fight for justice for the foreigner (Malachi 3:5), provide food for the foreigner (Leviticus 19:9-10), and invite them in as you would Jesus (Matthew 25:25-36). However, Christians are also people who recognize, obey, and give honor to the public servants God allowed in leadership. The government is tasked with restraining and punishing evil (Romans 13:4), enacting justice (Romans 13:5), and fostering an atmosphere of peace (1 Timothy 2:2). 

N.C.A.A. Places Louisville on Probation and Suspends Pitino (ESPN)

“The N.C.A.A. announced on Thursday that it had suspended Louisville’s Hall of Fame basketball coach, Rick Pitino, for the first five games of Atlantic Coast Conference play next season and ordered the program to forfeit what could be dozens of victories. Those forfeited wins could include the Cardinals’ 2013 national championship, which would become the first vacated national title in men’s basketball history.
“The N.C.A.A. sanctions went above and beyond ones Louisville imposed on itself in 2016, including a postseason ban, after it was revealed that a former director of basketball operations had provided strippers and prostitutes to players and recruits in a campus dormitory over several years.”

Nick Note: “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin (James 4:7).”

C U L T U R A L   N E W S

The Universal Phenomenon of Men Interrupting Women (NY Times)

“Academic studies and countless anecdotes make it clear that being interrupted, talked over, shut down or penalized for speaking out is nearly a universal experience for women when they are outnumbered by men…Another study, “Can an Angry Woman Get Ahead?” concluded that men who became angry were rewarded, but that angry women were seen as incompetent and unworthy of power in the workplace.
“The fact that women are outnumbered in every room puts them in a position where they’re often coming up against gender-based stereotypes,” said Deborah Gillis, president and chief executive of Catalyst, which works for women’s advancement in business. “Women are too hard, too soft, but never just right. What that means is that women are seen as either competent or liked but not both.”

Nick Note: Don’t Speak? Gwen Stefani believed she “knew what you were thinking” but it appears when women speak, they are too often disrespected in the workplace. In the biblical narrative, we show proper respect to everyone – including women in the workplace (1 Peter 2:17).

Eating fried potatoes linked to higher risk of death, study says (CNN)

“People who eat fried potatoes two or more times a week double their risk of an early death compared to those who avoid them, a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found.
“In 2014, Americans consumed 112.1 pounds of potatoes per person, according to the National Potato Council. Of that total, 33.5 pounds were fresh potatoes, the remaining 78.5 pounds were processed. According to the US Department of Agriculture, the majority of processed potatoes Americans eat are French fries.”

Nick Note: Give me fried potato wedges or give me…vegetables??? But in all seriousness, I found the article title particularly interesting, almost insinuating that you can escape death if you avoid fried potatoes. The Bible disagrees (Hebrews 9:27). So does one of my favorite writers, Michel de Montaigne: “If you don’t know how to die, don’t worry; Nature will tell you what to do on the spot, fully and adequately.”

Young Men Are Playing Video Games Instead of Getting Jobs. That’s OK. (For Now.) (Reason)

“Between 2000 and 2015, he said, the percentage of lower-skilled men aged 21 to 55 who had a job dropped from 84 percent to 77 percent, “a massive change relative to historical levels.” The decline is particularly acute among men in their 20s. Employment fell 10 points over the same period, from 82 percent to 72 percent. In 2015, he noted, 22 percent of men in their 20s who lacked a college degree had not worked a single day during the previous year—up from 10 percent in 2000.
“Instead of working, they are playing video games. About three quarters of the increase in leisure time among men since 2000 has gone to gaming. Total time spent on computers, including game consoles, has nearly doubled.”

Nick Note: Working Hard for the Money or hardly working and not bringing in any money? In his book Gross National Happiness, Arthur Brooks reviews a number of social science studies on happiness. He finds there are four commonalities necessary to secure happiness: a worldview that can account for joy and sorrow, a vocation (reason for getting up and going to work), a family (a group to share life with), and friends (humans to go through life with). These young men may be happy in the moment, but will the happiness from the video games paralyze them in the less than desirable present or propel them to a more prosperous future? (2 Thessalonians 3:10)

N E W S   Y O U   C A N   U S E

A Surprising Number of Americans Think Chocolate Milk Comes From Brown Cows (NBC News)

“The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy conducted a survey of more than 1,000 adults 18 and over in April 2017. It not only found that seven percent thought that chocolate milk only comes from brown cows, but that 48 percent of people aren’t sure where chocolate milk comes from.”

Nick Note: Don’t be so gullible, McFly! “Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding (Proverbs 3:13).”

Jimmy Fallon and Miley Cyrus put on disguises and give a surprise performance of “Jolene” and “Party in the U.S.A.” in the 47th St. subway station.

Nick Note: Watch it here. Augustine said it best: “Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering.” Or as CS Lewis noted, there are no ordinary people. You never talk to mere mortals.

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