Daily Briefing: July 12, 2017

Posted by    |    July 12th, 2017 at 6:31 am

T O P   N E W S

Russian Dirt on Clinton? ‘I Love It,’ Donald Trump Jr. Said (NY Times)

Nick Note: It may not be illegal, but is it moral? Here is the story:

Emin Agalarov called Rob Goldstone. Emin is a pop star who met President Trump back in 2013 at the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. Emin performed a few times afterwards at Trump properties. Mr. Trump sent a happy birthday video to Emin and Emin gave Mr. Trump the chance to cameo in his music video. Watch here. Rob Goldstone is a former tabloid journalist and current music publicist who manages Emin. He met Mr. Trump in 2013 also and stayed connected with his son, Donald Jr., after the pageant. 

Emin told Goldstone that his father, Aras, just met with someone who had very high level and sensitive information and the Russian government supported a Trump presidency. This was in June 2016. This person wanted a meeting with the Trump team. Aras is a billionaire real estate mogul and was crowned by President Putin in 2013 with the Order of Honor of the Russian Federation. One of his properties hosted the Miss Universe pageant in 2013. He and other sponsors paid roughly $20 million to license the Miss Universe name and bring the pageant to Moscow. After the pageant, Mr. Trump tweeted: “I had a great weekend with you and your family. You have done a FANTASTIC job. TRUMP TOWER-MOSCOW is next. EMIN was WOW!”

Goldstone sought to set up a meeting with the person who had the information, Natalia Veselnitskaya. Upon hearing about the high level and sensitive information and learning about Russian government support, Trump Jr. responded: “I love it.” Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner were looped into the meeting. Natalia is known for her lobbying against the Magnitsky Act, designed to seize the assets of and deny visas to suspected Russian human rights abusers. Veselnitskaya told the NYT that she “never acted on behalf of the Russian government.” 

Last night on Sean Hannity, Trump Jr said: “For me this was opposition research, they had something you know maybe concrete evidence to all the stories I’d been hearing about, probably under reported for years not just during the campaign so I think I wanted to hear it out. But really it went nowhere and it was apparent that wasn’t what the meeting was about.” However, Nicole Wallace of the Bush campaign said she never met with a foreign adversary when collecting opposition work. For the past 4 presidential elections, each candidate’s opposition researcher said they never took research from a foreign adversary. 

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the man who endangered American lives and abetted despots, claimed he had a conversation with Trump Jr. hours before he released the emails that resulted in Trump Jr. releasing said emails. Here are the emails

It may not be illegal, but is it moral? This is not a Democrat issue. This is not a Republican issue. This is not a media issue. This is an American issue. From what we know right now, Donald Jr. didn’t break the law or collude with Russian officials. But according to David French, this was attempted collusion. There is “an e-mail chain where a Trump contact explicitly tried to set up a meeting between a purported Russian official and the Trump senior team to facilitate official Russian efforts to beat Clinton.” Charles Krauthammer agreed. Watch here

Love of country should always trump the desire to win an election similar to how our obedience to God always trumps obedience to man (Acts 5:29). 

Are Russian officials like the deceiving Gibeonites in Joshua 9? Is President Putin like the subversively kind Babylonian king in 2 Kings 20? Here is what I do know: the United States is a nation of courageous and innovative citizens bound together by exceptional ideals and their belief in certain unalienable rights. George Washington noted that religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society. We should expect our leaders to do what is morally right and assume they will avoid what is legally wrong.  

Amid partisan din, Sen. James Lankford walks a fine line: Pastor and politician (RNS)

“In the nation’s capital, Lankford’s weekdays consist of Senate Intelligence Committee hearings into Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election and frequent cable news appearances to discuss policy questions ranging from national security to health care.
“But each weekend, the former youth pastor flies home to Oklahoma and worships with the Quail Springs church, a large Southern Baptist congregation in this Bible Belt state capital…When senior pastor Hance Dilbeck went on vacation this month, he asked Lankford to preach at all three morning services on two straight Sundays. Lankford didn’t hesitate to oblige.”

Nick Note: Like Amos, when the people of God needed him and the Lord called on him, he answered (Amos 7:14).

Warren Buffett just gave $3.2 billion to charity (CNN)

“The Oracle of Omaha gave away $3.17 billion in shares of his holding company, Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA), according to a company statement. Buffett has donated billions to charity every year for more than a decade.”

Nick Note: Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” (Acts 20:35)

Beachgoers form a human chain to save a family trapped in a rip current (CNN)

“A family stuck in a rip current narrowly avoided a tragedy when a crowd of strangers linked together to bring them back to land. Nine beachgoers, including two children and an elderly woman, were trapped in the current at Panama City Beach in Florida on Saturday. Bystanders on the shore saw them yelling and waving their arms, and they jumped into action.
“The chain grew to around 70 to 80 strangers, all holding hands and stretching to reach the trapped group. All of the swimmers made it out.”

Nick Note: The Beatles want to Hold Your Hand but Hootie and the Blowfish insist that you Hold My Hand. Whether you are a Beatle or a Blowfish, this group benefited when these strangers held each other’s hands. And in turn, their selfless act added a little more salt to the ocean. “You are the salt of the earth… that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:13,16).”

C U L T U R A L   N E W S

The disappearing startup (Axios)

“For the first time on record, U.S. companies are actually dying at a faster rate than they’re being born, according to an analysis by the Economic Innovation Group, a non-profit research and advocacy organization.
“The slow rate of business starts means the U.S. economy is powered by a narrowing segment of companies, people and geographies — making the overall economy less resilient than it was after previous recessions. When fewer new companies are being born, it’s less likely that the companies and jobs that are disappearing will be replaced by better ones. And without competitive pressures from upstarts, big companies are able to grow bigger faster, increasing industry consolidation.”

Nick Note: The share of people under 30 who own a business has fallen by 65 percent since the 1980s and is now at a quarter-century low, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Federal Reserve data. In the biblical narrative, we read about a number of entrepreneurs. Lydia was a dealer in purple – a luxury item of the day(Acts 16:14-15, 40). And Paul started a tent-making business (Acts 18:3). Entrepreneurship is not for everyone, but working hard for God’s glory and the world’s good is (Colossians 3:23, 1 Corinthians 10:31).

Political views tops list of reasons people are harassed online (Pew)

“Over 40% of Americans have been the target of harassing behavior online, up just 6% from 2014, according to Pew Research Center. Of all the things people say they are harassed for, political views tops the list, followed by physical appearance, gender and race/ethnicity. Republican and Democratic respondents are equally likely to be harassed online for their political views.
“Around 25% of respondents say they have been called offensive names or have been purposefully embarrassed by someone. Less people said they experienced more extreme forms of harassment, like physical threats (10%), stalking (7%) and sexual harassment (6%).”

Nick Note: “The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit (Proverbs 15:4).”

Syphilis rates are on the rise, and dating apps may be playing a role, experts say (USA Today)

“Infection rates are the highest they have been in 20 years, said David Harvey, the executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors. From 2014 to 2015 alone, the number of syphilis cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rose by 17.7%, from 63,453 to 74,702.
“Along with cuts in STD prevention and treatment resources and possibly more relaxed attitudes toward protection since the advent of life-saving HIV treatments, health experts think the influence of social media on how people meet sex partners may play a role in the upswing.
“Grindr, a gay dating app with 3 million daily active users, has a “Sexual Health” section on each user’s profile where the user can list HIV status and the last time they were tested.”

Nick Note: Researchers found that increased social media use is linked to higher levels of perceived social isolation. Though social media isolates you, it also provides a dopamine hit – like a hug. In essence, social media can function like a vicious cycle. When you get a like, a retweet, etc., you get a rush of dopamine to your system – an atomic hug. But we know that an actual hug is far greater than a virtual like. French writer Montaigne acknowledged this, writing that the very first clasp of future lovers hands caused arms to go numb. Today, have bouts of isolation caused individuals to overindulge once emerging out of their seasons of isolation? Christians should seek to connect and appropriately affirm (Hebrews 10:24-25, Ephesians 5:18-21, Ecclesiastes 3:11). But they are to flee sexual immorality, not welcome it (1 Corinthians 6:18).

N E W S   Y O U   C A N   U S E

Gangnam Style is no longer the most-played video on YouTube (BBC)

“The surreal video became so popular that it “broke” YouTube’s play counter, exceeding the maximum possible number of views (2,147,483,647), and forcing the company to rewrite its code. But the song has now been overtaken by another music video – Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth’s See You Again.”

Nick Note: Gangham Style slid across the country like the Electric Slide. And similar to the Electric Slide, I imagine we have not seen the last of it. In God’s kingdom, mercy trumps judgement, love never fails, and goodbyes are always temporary (Titus 2:13, James 2:13, 1 Corinthians 13:8).

Husband’s photobomb attempt does not go well at all

Nick Note: Watch it here. This husband wanted to steal his wife’s glory. He failed. In a similar fashion, don’t try to steal God’s glory. “I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols (Isaiah 42:8).”

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